The need for your child to be an excelling student is now greater than it has ever been before. The bar for good grades continues to rise. Entry into colleges is becoming more and more contested. It’s not a good time to be left behind.
Unfortunately, the idea of studying does not sit well with a lot of students. You may be personally familiar with statements like “I hate studying” or “I can’t do it”. These are certainly phrases I hear uttered far too often from my students.
The good news is that studying is a skill. Just like playing a sport or learning an instrument – it can be learnt. It can be practiced and perfected by anyone.
Here are 5 simple things you can do today to begin shaping your child into an expert studier:
1. Help your child find the study formula
A study formula is the academic equivalent of an athlete’s routine. Athletes know exactly what they need to do the morning before the race so that they’re as prepared as they can possibly be. They have a magic formula they use every time. Once your child works out the study formula, every time he sits down to study, he will know exactly what it is they need to do to get the most out of that session. You can start off by getting your child to think about what works for him.
What techniques help them remember well? Do they like writing long notes, or bullet-pointed short lines? Do they like drawing diagrams? Do they like talking about what they’ve been studying? Do they learn from watching videos? Do they like using highlighters?
What about their study environment? Do they need to lock themselves in a room away from all distractions, or do they need to be around people? Do they study best in the morning or at night? Do they get lots done where they study currently, or would they be better off somewhere else in the house? Music or no music? The list goes on…
The answers to these questions don’t come about after one study session. Over time your child will start to perfect their study formula if they make a conscious effort to use the techniques that work for them.
2. Start teaching time management early
One of the hardest things, if not the biggest obstacle of studying, is just starting. The best way to combat this is to set time aside for study in advance.
It’s essential that good study habits like time management are in place before your child goes off to college. They’ve only got themselves for motivation and discipline at college, and this ain’t gonna happen easily if they’ve been slack at school.
Right now you can help your child make a study timetable. Make a chart for the week with all the times that they’re going to study. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Then stick it somewhere obvious so you and your child see it daily. Make it impossible to ignore!
3. Offer your own expertise
Whatever your background, you can still help with your child’s study. You may not be a math whiz, but maybe you can proofread your child’s essays? Or come up with cool ideas for an assignment?
Just being interested in what they’re doing is a huge help. You’re showing them that the work they do is important, and that they have your support behind them. Kids who have interested parents don’t want to let them down.
4. Stress the importance of learning – not the grade
The skill of being able to learn is far more important than an ‘A’ grade. And if/when your child gets this, you’ll probably find they enjoy school more, because they’re not totally consumed by getting good grades.
And of course, if your child likes learning, then they’re on their way to getting good grades anyway.
5. Ask your child what they think about what they’re learning
Motivated kids know why it’s important to them that they do well. When you ask an unmotivated kid why school’s important and they’ll simply shrug and say “I dunno”.
Try talking to your child about their subjects. With their math or hard science homework, see if they can explain the real world relevance of a particular calculation. With their English, History or Arts subjects, try and have an interesting conversation about a particular concept or something that happened.
You might be thinking now – “Yeah right, you try and have a conversation like that with my kid”. Maybe it’ll take persistence and a few changes around the household before your child’s attitude towards school improves, but boy it will be worth it!
Remember – anyone can learn how to study. It’s a skill that can be taught, practiced, and perfected, and your child is no exception.
The Study Gurus are Clare McIlwraith and Chris Whittington. Their aim is to show parents how they can help their children reach their academic potential. They’re sharing their years of studying and tutoring experience at www.thestudygurus.com.