BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK
The learning that takes place in a classroom only produces half of your child’s academic success. The other half includes your child’s study habits outside the classroom. Effective study habits are learned. Parents must teach their children how to study, gleaning the most knowledge possible. Therefore, use the tips below to teach your child to study with effectiveness.
Choose the best study spot
The best study environment is one that has few physical distractions and reduces the likelihood of sleep. Have your child sit at a desk or table with a straight-backed chair rather than a bed or a sofa. Also, have your child sit in a place free of phone, television, or Internet. All of these technologies are too tempting for your child to be around. Finally, make sure your child studies alone. Children often falter when trying to develop study habits in the company of others. If your child gets easily bored and falls asleep when studying alone, consider having him listen to soft, instrumental music during his study session. However, make sure the music is free of lyrics and jarring beats, so as not to interrupt focus.
Rereading and writing
Offer strategies to help process the information they learn at school. One way of processing class notes and readings is by rereading the information and highlighting important words. Have your child identify a key term about the subject he’s studying. Then identify words or facts that are important to the term’s meaning. Next, highlight words or facts to make the needed information more apparent when studying later. If your child is working on math, have him highlight equations or the mathematical rules for solving a problem. He or she can also process notes by paraphrasing, or rewriting notes in a different way, on a separate sheet of paper in order to further clarify the information learned in class. Also, teach your children to question the material they learn. Your child should finish a study session by writing a list of approximately three to four clarifying questions about the information read. Then have your child pose the questions to the teacher the following school day.
Incorporate study breaks
Refresh your child’s thinking by taking a short break (20 minutes if he has been studying for an hour or after a certain amount of studying). Your child can take a break every 40 minutes or when he understands a certain number of definitions, facts or concepts. Once that has been determined, discuss the types of break she should take. Being active during the break will energize your child for another round of studying, and keeping the break partner-less will prevent him from taking a longer break. If your child plays outside with friends during the break, for instance, they might persuade him to play longer than scheduled. Activities could include dancing to music, jumping rope and biking to and from a nearby park.
Benefits of studying
Like adults, students are more motivated to study when they actually see their hard work pay off. One way is to post graded tests on a wall devoted solely to your child’s work. Seeing higher test scores, she is more likely to maintain effective study habits for the next test.
Your child will also see that studying is beneficial when he is able to help others. On Saturday mornings at your local library, for instance, your child can tutor a relative or friend who is one grade level behind. Helping someone else will enrich and reinforce his own knowledge.
China Hill is a teacher at KIPP Ascend Charter School on the West Side.