As your child advances through school and assignments become more complex, effective study skills become central to academic success. By reviewing the concepts he’s learned in class, studying can help your child improve his grades and be more productive when it comes to completing assignments. Developing good study skills now will benefit your child throughout his academic career.
Get organized. The most critical step in the study process is organization. Without a clear picture of what is expected of him, a child can easily become frustrated and overwhelmed by the volume of paperwork alone. Depending on his grade level, you’ll want to provide him with separate folders for each of his classes. Keep those folders in a binder so they don’t get separated or lost. In one folder pocket, keep the papers that are due, and in the other folder pocket, keep papers that have been returned. Although your child may be tempted to throw away graded or completed assignments, don’t let him. Especially in the upper grades, those papers may become valuable study tools for unit tests or final exams.
Create a designated study spot. Find a space in your home where your child can read and do homework free from distractions such as smartphones, game consoles, computers and TV, unless Internet research is required for an assignment. If your child has difficulty focusing without some background noise, play music softly in the background, but do not allow headphone use. According to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, headphones can interfere with learning because they provide “direct access” to the brain, whereas background music blends in with other environmental sounds and masks other noises, effectively helping a student to concentrate.
Establish goals. If your child becomes easily overwhelmed by the amount of homework he has, or by the weight of an upcoming exam, help him break the task down into smaller goals. Work on the simplest tasks first, and check off each one as it’s completed. This will provide your child with a sense of accomplishment and motivate him to complete a larger, more complex task. Be sure to work in periodic breaks to allow your child time to refocus, reenergize and regroup.
Encourage and motivate. Stay attuned to what your child is working on, but don’t hover. Encourage him to try to figure out problems on his own first. If he truly appears to be struggling, step in and help by providing suggestions – but don’t just give him the answer. Ask him questions that may trigger an “a-ha!” moment and encourage him to ask questions of his own. This process can enhance what psychologists refer to as “metacognition,” which is the ability to assess one’s own skills and abilities, which, in turn, affects how well your child studies and learns.