School projects, homework, and reading assignments are an opportunity for students to practice time management and study skills outside the structure of the classroom. These skills are essential to success later in life, and when mastered early, greatly improve your child's experience and self-confidence.
As a parent, you want to avoid the chaos of helping your child desperately complete long-term projects or "cram" for important exams the night before they are due. You want to avoid "nagging" your child to do his or her homework, but as a parent, you feel responsible for supervising your child's home studies.
Following are 10 tips to improve your child's study habits, fuel his or her interest in learning, and defuse parent/student conflict.
1. Work with your child to determine the right environment
Does your student feel more comfortable in a closed room or the edge of activity within your household? Find a spot where you can set up a dedicated study area best suited to your child's comfort level. Have a consistent place for her books, study tools, and computer. Ensure there is proper lighting, comfortable seating and minimal distractions.
Be open to your child's request to have music playing as she studies, though we recommend instrumental, ambient music to those with lyrics. Music can relax or energize some students; others may find it distracting
2. Develop a Calendar System
Schedules are essential to effective time management and help your student break up large projects into goal-oriented tasks. Applications such as Evernote and Google Calendar are excellent tools that allow students to keep track of projects across multiple platforms.
3. Checklist of Priorities
The psychological satisfaction of checking off items from a list is a built-in reward for effective time management. As you help your student break larger projects into smaller tasks, you'll want to develop both a weekly and a daily checklist for study goals.
Remind your child to write down seemingly menial tasks, such as "organize desktop," "clean backpack," and "review next week's due dates" as these are all important aspects of good work habits. Writing down and checking off these line items reinforces his or her role in a routine as well as the reward of completing them.
4. Hail the Highlighter: Tips on Reading Retention
Whether your student reads on a tablet or from a bound text, assigned reading skills benefit from three basic steps:
- Quick Skim through Chapter: This step allows the student to get a good overview of the topic.
- Highlight Key Points & Passages: Encourage your student to develop his own technique for color-coding key elements on the second, more thorough read-through. The important part is that your student is determining how to prioritize data.
- Review & Record: On the final read, your student should make notes on the content of the reading assignment, using his highlighted passages as a guide. One helpful tip is to have your student come up with five "pop quiz" questions (and answers) for each chapter.
5. Review and Revise Lecture Notes
Studies show that reviewing and reorganizing lecture notes the same day as the lesson greatly improves learning retention.
6. Goal Setting & Rewards
Help your student set realistic, "bite-sized" goals for daily and long term assignments. Encourage her to use work breaks as an incentive to power through tasks; a quick video game, stretching, a phone call to a friend, or a quick snack allows her to return to the project with a fresh mind.
Achieving small goals has a snowball effect of encouraging students to set their own, more substantive goals. Encourage your child to achieve routine study goals with appropriate rewards and motivators.
7. Develop a Balanced Routine
Is your morning routine rushed? Set your student's wake-up alarm early, and incorporate a short study session before he leaves for school. This is an excellent opportunity for your child to go over the day's tasks, review highlights from reading assignments, or prepare for scheduled exams. Adding structure to chaotic mornings improves your student's mindset for the day.
Break up afternoon study sessions whenever possible. Long, uninterrupted blocks of "grind time" are less effective than short, focused, task-oriented sessions. Your child's extracurricular and family activities are important aspects of his development, so take the opportunity to teach him the value of balancing fun, fitness, family, and studies.
8. Fuel the Brain
Keep plenty of healthy snacks available throughout the day. Seeds, nuts, berries, dark chocolate, and fruit juice provide excellent nutrition and blood flow to the brain. High-quality trail mixes, dark-green salads with fruit and nuts, and anything containing fish oil are great snacks for busy students.
9. Sleep is Essential
As your student's study skills improve, so will her sleep patterns. Reduced stress, properly managed projects and increased confidence facilitate restful sleep. Encourage healthy sleeping patterns by establishing a lights-out policy and discouraging too much activity close to bedtime. Your student's brain works hard all day and requires rest for recovery and development.
Set a schedule with your student in which you can synchronize your calendars with important study deadlines (tests, project due dates, etc.) and take the opportunity to decide what you as a parent can do to help with your student's study environment and specific tasks. Encourage your student to share his successes and failures with you and don't hesitate to ask your child's teacher for guidance.
Greater Atlanta Christian School partners with parents to help students develop the study habits and time management skills they need in order to succeed in school and life. Visit us to learn more about the learning experience offered and the resources available for students conveniently on campus. Schedule your visit today!