It’s a great feeling for kids and parents alike when a child comes home with a paper or exam with an “A” on it. However, what happens when your child arrives home crying over an upcoming exam or a mediocre project grade? Tension escalates, stress builds, and parent and child alike become overwhelmed and nervous.
If you, the parent, can intervene and teach your child good study habits, these potential problems can easily be avoided. While not every method will work for your child, just getting involved will help your child improve their study habits. By setting a schedule, emphasizing reasonable expectations and teaching your children good time management skills, you’ll put your child on a path to getting great grades. Step in early and enforce these study tips and tricks to help your children earn great grades in school this year.
Have a Clearly Defined Homework Routine
Does your child come home from school and study, or does he or she take a break and hit the books after dinner? Some kids work well directly after school, while others need to relax, unwind and burn off bottled-up energy to cognitively reboot. See what works best for your child, and tailor a studying schedule to their needs. Designating a specific time for homework and studying creates a routine, which helps children focus better and study more effectively.
Don’t let due dates dictate study times. It’s best to start studying as early as possible in order to allow your child ample time to learn and understand the material. Pushing work off until the last minute can add extra stress to the studying process, and will do more harm than good. Try a few of these homework methods to start studying right.
Eliminate Distractions and Interruptions
Where your son or daughter studies is just as important as his or her study plan. In other words, how much information is really going to be retained if your child is studying in front of the TV? How well will your child’s English essay read if he or she is also writing posts on Facebook or Twitter? Creating a designated study area for your child will help minimize interruptions and distractions. Make sure this space, whether it’s at the kitchen table or at a desk in a bedroom, is quiet, well-lit and in a low-traffic space.
According to a 2016 poll by Common Sense Media, 80 percent of teens said they checked their smartphones hourly, while 72 percent said they felt the need to immediately respond to texts and social media messages. Today, technology plays a huge role in children’s lives, but it can also be a serious distraction. In order to keep your child focused on schoolwork, Sylvan Learning suggests instituting a no cell phone rule during study time.
Be Involved, But Give Your Kids Autonomy
Helping your child with homework is important, but teaching smart study skills depends on how you’re involved. Commands, incentives, threats and bribes are not conducive tactics to encourage studying or to get their children to do homework. On the flip side, it’s not helpful to take over your son or daughter’s projects by doing it yourself.
When it comes to education and schoolwork, parents need to be involved, but they also need to give their kids some autonomy. The “helicopter” approach to helping your child succeed might work in the short term—yes, your child’s history project isn’t late because you stayed up until 3:00 a.m. completing it for him—but it’s the wrong method for long-term success. Too much parental involvement and instruction can backfire.
So what can you do instead? Let your children succeed and fail on their own terms so they can learn what works and what to avoid in the future. If your child is clearly struggling, step in and provide help as necessary to set them on a better path. Your goal is to support your child’s motivation and help them work in their own way.
Time Management and Self Discipline
There’s a saying that can be applied to teaching your child good study skills: “It’s not about working hard; it’s about working smart.” The phrase isn’t referring to cutting corners or finding cheap shortcuts, nor is it suggesting that your young scholar use Wikipedia as a primary source for an essay. Time is valuable and using time wisely is an essential component to creating a good study routine.
Time management is an organizational skill. Dorothy Rich, author of “MegaSkills: Building Our Children’s Character and Achievement for School and Life,” says: “Parents can teach children ways to manage their time through practiced exercises. The ultimate goal is to help children build internal self-discipline and a capacity to mange themselves.”
So how can you teach your child these skills? Try creating a responsibility chart to give your child a chance to take control of their schedule. Giving them the option to take charge of their schedule will allow them to better understand the time needed to complete activities, both school-related and otherwise.
Communicate Clear Expectations
Mistakes are a welcomed part of the learning process, and it’s important to communicate that to your child at a young age. Learning is about building a set of skills over time. Between school, friends and extracurricular activities, many kids feel over-scheduled and over-managed, so don’t put undue pressure on your child. Too much pressure can cause a child to shut down or lead to feelings of incompetence.
Allow mistakes at home to create a nurturing learning environment. Be forgiving if your child doesn’t get something correct from the start. Encourage your child to ask questions if he or she doesn’t understand something. If your child is really struggling with a subject and doesn’t respond well to your help, consider organizing a study group or hiring a tutor. Effort is the key to your child’s long term success.
Have a Positive Outlook
Having a positive mental outlook is important when doing schoolwork. A negative mindset sabotages even the brightest and most disciplined students, commonly referred to as catastrophic thinking. Catastrophic thinking happens when your mind clings to the worst-case scenario and then triggers the outcome you wanted to avoid.
There are ways to keep your child from spiraling into a catastrophic mindset. If there’s a test coming up or a paper due, keep your child calm, focused and positive. Develop a study plan, review test-taking strategies, help them organize their time and get to work early. Once your child starts doubting themselves, catastrophic thinking can take over and impair their study sessions.
While there’s no definitive secret behind the “A,” these smart study habits will help your child succeed in the classroom… and beyond.