No matter what your children’s school year looks like due to the pandemic, helping them develop effective study habits is important.
If they are distance learning, strong study skills will be vital since they won’t have supervised time in class. Instead, they (and probably you) will need to be intentional and focused about getting schoolwork done without a teacher monitoring their schedule.
If you’re homeschooling, helping your kids become independent learners is likely one of your goals. And even if your children are able to attend classes in person, they still need to learn to study effectively.
Over the years, cognitive psychologists and educators have pinpointed helpful habits for studying. As you ease back into the school year, these will be invaluable.
Plan ahead for study sessions instead of just trying to fit them in here and there. Help your kids block out time devoted to learning by identifying a time each day and week for them to study. Don’t schedule other things during this time. Keep it a priority.
Remember to review their schedule with them to help them learn the routine. Even early elementary kids will feel more empowered if they have a role in their activities.
As much as you can, try to dedicate a consistent place where they can study. This could be at the kitchen table, a desk in the living room, or a spot in the child’s bedroom.
While you’re at it, consider adding small environmental stimuli that signal it’s time to study. This could be a gently scented candle or essential oil or some other little routine. With time, your child’s brain will become conditioned to focus when it experiences these signals.
Set a Goal
As with most things in life, study time will be more effective with a goal in mind. So help your child identify what tasks they need to accomplish in their study session. Do they need to read a chapter, review flashcards, or complete assignments?
It may be most helpful to put these goals on a schedule on the wall or a calendar just for the use of each child (if you have more than one to supervise). This way, they can be checked off, which adds to the satisfaction of accomplishing a task.
Keep It Quiet
As noisy and overstimulated as our world is, maintaining a peaceful, quiet atmosphere for study is crucial. The human brain is not designed to try to filter multiple stimuli at once.
Television, music, mobile notifications, video games—if these are in the background, your student will struggle to focus. Their brains will be better able to absorb and retain information in a quiet, studio environment.
Get the Hardest Thing Out of the Way First
Specialists have long recommended that people tackle the most challenging task on their to-do list at the beginning of the day or week. Using this strategy alleviates stress for your child.
They won’t have the unfinished task hanging over their head the whole time. And they’ll have more mental energy and motivation in the beginning instead of doing it when they’re reaching the end of their energy and focus.
Review, Review, Review
The brain absorbs information best when it is given repeated exposure to a topic. Rather than working on a chapter only once, make sure to review its topics several times over different days.
You can adapt this method to fit your child’s learning style as well. Pull in auditory and kinesthetic approaches rather than just visual reading if that helps them. Go through class notes, flashcards, and supplemental materials. This approach helps the brain build better storage of the topic.
If you help your child learn these habits when they’re young, they’ll be well prepared for college or technical school. And it will help with their future career too.
If your child encounters struggles with learning that consistently make study difficult, a children’s counselor can help. There may be undiagnosed learning challenges or emotional issues going on that hinder learning. There will probably be many adaptations to schooling this year due to the pandemic, but a counselor can help make the way smoother.
I invite you to contact us to find out how we can support you and your child.