Teaching Good Study Habits

1 09 2009

by Sylvia Rimm,Ph.D.

The key to your child’s success

Perhaps the most important skill your child can learn in school is how to study effectively. By learning how to take notes, read for content, actively listen and study for exams, your child will not only achieve more in school but she’ll take these skills with her to college and into her career. Bad study habits, on the other hand, interfere with learning. If your daughter loses confidence in her abilities as a student, the resulting insecurity might cause her to limit her future options in college or the workplace.

Clearly, it’s in the best interest of your children to teach them good study skills–but changing bad habits can be challenging. Some children have no difficulty letting go of their bad habits; others consistently fight any change. Either way, with the right techniques and plenty of perseverance, it is possible to transform a study-phobic child into an organized, efficient student.

Read on to learn how to cater to your child’s particular learning style and to find tips on creating study schedules.

A Time and a Place

The key to your child’s success

Good study habits begin with an appropriate time and place for study. Setting a routine time for study is key. Find a time that fits both your schedule and your child’s. Study time may need to be flexible in families in which parents aren’t home when kids come home from school; however, some general rules can guide you in setting a proper time and place.

How responsible is your child? If he accomplishes homework independently and studies in a timely manner, there’s no need for you to specify a time for study. On the other hand, if he hasn’t studied enough, you should help him structure his time. The amount of time will vary with their grade and school requirements. Elementary school children should study from 15 minutes to one hour; middle school children need one to two hours; and high school students require between two and three hours each evening.

If your child isn’t used to spending time studying, use a timer and hold her to a specified and agreed upon amount of time. If she says she’s completed all of her homework far before the allotted time is up, have her use the remainder for review, organizing notes or doing extra reading for future book reports or for pleasure. Remind your kids that the timer and prescriptive study times are only a temporary measure to help them manage their study time independently. For children who love to read, permitting them to do pleasure reading during study time may be counterproductive. Writing or math study could complete their study time. Inform them that when their achievement habits improve, you’ll be more flexible and allow them to set their own study schedule.

There should be a break immediately after school for children to have a snack and some physical and social activity. Children often believe they should use that break to watch television. However, television will put them into a passive mode, and they’re unlikely to want to stop watching to begin studying. It’s better to insist that television follow study and homework. Your children may say, “But I need to relax after school.” Assure them that they will get to relax. Exercise is both relaxing and energizing and more appropriate after a day of sitting in school. Certainly, having time to chat or clown around or play is appropriate for after school, but television is not.

In determining the right time for study, keep in mind that kids need something to look forward to after study. If possible, at least part of children’s study time should take place before the evening meal, leaving time for play or television after study. If the study time is set late in the evening, study will be less efficient and there won’t be time afterwards for play. With only bedtime to follow, kids aren’t motivated toward efficiency. Homework or study may also become an excuse to stay up late if it is scheduled just before bedtime. (For some reason unknown to adults, few children enjoy going to sleep!) They often look for ways to stay up as long as adults are awake.

Having a designated study place is equally important for helping children learn efficiently. A desk in your child’s own room, with a STUDENT AT WORK sign posted on the door, is ideal. Many kids have desks, although they may be cluttered with junk. If kids don’t have their own rooms, there are other good alternatives: the kitchen, dining room or basement are reasonable places as long as no one else is in the same room, and the kids are out of listening and viewing range of the TV while they’re studying.

Different Learning Styles

The key to your child’s success

We know that children’s learning styles vary. Some children learn more efficiently visually, others are more effective listeners and prefer auditory learning, and still others learn best by tactile senses or through hands-on activities. Stories that involve feelings or emotions enhance learning for most children. Using all four styles can encourage your children to utilize their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.

VISUAL LEARNERS should use writing, copying, drawing or collecting pictures to reinforce their memory.

AUDITORY LEARNERS can best improve their memory by listening to and talking on tapes, as well as oral repetition.

KINESTHETIC LEARNERS learn most effectively when manipulating counters, markers or flash cards.

All kinds of learners benefit from making up stories, rhymes or mnemonic devices. These techniques involve children’s feelings, which help improve their memories. Let your children discover what works best for them.

Keeping Track of Assignments

The key to your child’s success

Sometimes the best way to keep track of assignments is to simply set up a system with your child. For example, use a full-size spiral notebook for assignments. Each day’s assignments can be on a fresh page. The page is torn out when all assignments are complete. The advantages are: 1) The notebook is less likely to be lost because of size; 2) the child derives satisfaction from tearing out completed pages and showing them to parents or teacher; and 3) the new assignments are always on the top page. One disadvantage is that it’s somewhat wasteful of paper.
Some other ideas:

• Assignment notebooks that students consider cool are more apt to be used.

• Don’t use small assignment notebooks. They almost always get lost.

• Teachers sometimes prepare special assignment forms that children can place in their loose-leaf notebooks. Teachers should assign time at the end of the day for children to copy assignments in the appropriate place and gather necessary books.

• Some children find it helpful to use double-sided folders for each subject. Unfinished work goes on one side. Completed work is saved in the other side. On the weekend, children review their folder, save what they need and toss the rest.

• Children can be permitted to create their own assignment-reminder strategies. Some children are very inventive, and once they invest themselves in their own devices, they’re more likely to remain committed.

Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D., is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and the author of 12 books.




2 responses

2 09 2009

You may be interested to know of the following related resource:

http://www.memorista.com is a free website devoted to making it easier to learn basic foreign language vocabulary using mnemonics.

About a hundred items are available for each of five major languages, each one with a mnemonic already provided (most actually have more than one so you can choose what suits you best), or you can create your own mnemonics.

A learning/self-testing algorithm uses spaced repetition to prioritize your learning effort.

All the best

Francis – http://www.memorista.com

12 08 2012
Strocel.com | Babies, Toddlers and Bad Habits

[…] end with sleep, either. We’re giving our toddlers bad eating habits, teaching our children bad study habits, and we’re creating a whining epidemic, […]

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