When it comes to choosing what to do in their free time, studying is probably not at the top of most children’s list. It’s most likely not even on their list. Most children and teenagers spend around seven hours a day in school, and so their first instinct when they come home is not to crack open their math book and start plugging away at algebraic equations. Yet studying is an essential part of maintaining good grades, being prepared for tests, and retaining all of that information that students need as they advance in their studies. Whether your child is five or seventeen, here are a few helpful tips in teaching them to practice having good study habits.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
We’ve all heard the saying that, ‘Practice makes perfect.’ Not only is that untrue but it’s also not feasible. Who is truly perfect at anything? As a teacher at our school so rightly says, ‘Practice makes permanent.’ Instead of pushing our children to perfection, let’s teach them that progress and growth are really the keys in making a practice become a habit. In the same way that we desire our children and students to grow and progress physically, it’s important that they do the same in their knowledge and academics. This is achieved through the repetitive practicing of skills until the behavior becomes permanent. This door swings both ways, however, in that even poor practice habits can also become permanent.
SET A REASONABLE GOAL.
Sometimes learning a skill or achieving a desired grade can seem overwhelming or impossible to a student. They feel as though they can never reach the expectation set for them so they give up or quit before they ever start to try. In our day and age of instant gratification, it is important to set realistic goals that are age appropriate so that children can see that it is within their grasp even though it may take time to get there. For younger students, start with ten minutes a day of reading and completing homework assignments, but give Fridays off. As children advance into higher grade levels their workload becomes heavier, so it is important that this time is increased every year. For older students, let them know you are there if they need your help, but try to let them take responsibility for their successes and failures. You are training them for real life!
KEEP TO A ROUTINE.
Routines are a large reason why people achieve success in their lives. Keeping to a routine teaches consistency, perseverance, and ultimately teaches that goals can be achieved. Think about Olympic athletes and the grueling day in and day out routines they keep to ensure their bodies are performing at the highest levels of excellence. To a lesser extent, the same is true for our children. By setting time aside in each day to study and complete homework, we are teaching that hard work reaps rewards and they will understand this when they see their good grades and performance in the classroom. Prioritizing homework and study sessions before screen time, free time, and social time teaches our children what it is that we value and what they will learn to value.
4. HOMEWORK HELPS PREPARE CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE.
Completing homework in a timely fashion teaches independent learning and problem solving skills. If a child can work independently on an assignment at a young age, it establishes self confidence in being able to complete a task. As they grow these tasks become bigger and more important, such as studying for the SATs, filling out college applications, and applying for a job. It also helps create a good after school routine and rhythm, both of which are necessary going into adulthood.
Homework is not ‘busy work,’ and it is never meant to be a time filler. It does have a purpose if given in a healthy and intentional way. Communication between parent and teacher is key to making homework something that is achievable for each child. Finding the balance between being challenged and being
overwhelmed is a very important line to walk, one that can easily tip either way. If your child is having anxiety over completing homework it is important to schedule a chat with their teacher or principal. Remember that homework serves a good purpose, and it instills life skills that will follow children long after they have left the classroom.