Ask good questions
Parents can help train their students in study skills by the questions they ask. For example, the following questions train a student in strong study habits:
- “How are you going to study tonight?” implies the need and expectation to study and helps the student think through some of the logistics of studying.
- “What are you going to do tomorrow?” helps the student plan for the future and recognize that not everything has to be done right now.
- “How do you know you’re ready for your test?” trains the student to set goals.
A common cause for academic difficulty is the failure to do homework faithfully. A student’s grade will usually improve significantly once he consistently completes and submits homework—not only because of the difference in grade for that particular assignment but also because he has actually increased his understanding of the material. Almost always a zero for a homework assignment indicates that homework was not completed and turned in. A parent who discovers this problem in the student’s NetClassroom record can have the student write down the homework that is due in each class, check it off when it is completed, and make another check when it is turned in. In this way, the parent can help the student begin to take ownership in organizing his work and completing tasks.
Evaluate study skills: questions to ask yourself and your student
Parents can also consider the following questions, adjusting them based on the child’s age and grade.
Does the student have a good place to study at home?
Multitasking, though popular, has often been found to be extremely ineffective. Students may think that they do not need a quiet place (without television, phone, computer games, or Internet) for study, but it is almost always a superior way to complete study tasks in a timely manner. That quiet place also needs a desk or table, a chair, good lighting, books, supplies, clock, etc. Until a student demonstrates that he focuses well and can complete homework and study tasks independently, this study place functions best when it is monitored by parents.
Does the student have a plan for study time?
Some students organize their study time by attempting to do homework in the order that classes occur during the school day and by doing it all in one long session. You may be surprised to find that your student is taking this approach! Instead, students need to have a strong plan—a goal or goals regarding what needs to be accomplished during study time. They need to consider priority (how much time should be designated for a particular assignment?) and type of material (can right and left brain material be reasonably alternated during the study time?). They should also start early and then take short breaks for refreshing during the study time. The length of study sessions and breaks should be adjusted in an age-appropriate way. Even for high school students, taking a short break after every 20 to 30 minutes of study is usually best.
Does the student work ahead?
Rather than cramming, daily review of material is the best way to prepare for tests. Long-term assignments are better accomplished by breaking them into parts and working on them little by little for several weeks.
Links to online study helps can be found here.