Good study habits

My nephew informed me that exams at his high school are starting soon.  I remember ‘exam time’ at school and the stress it always caused (for my parents too, I’m sure).  After all, we all want our children to “do well” in school and to have “good study habits” (defined by as “the behaviors used when preparing for tests or learning academic material”).  However, it’s not always clear what these ‘habits’ are, let alone how to teach them to our children (even those of us who were ‘good students’, don’t necessarily know how to help our children be the same).  Truth is, even though I did well in school, I would have definitely benefited from learning some more effective and efficient study tools and techniques.

Study habits are really just a set of skills, such as planning, effective time management, personal discipline and responsibility, good note-taking, as well as employment of various memory techniques and strategies (e.g. mnemonics) that, if employed consistently (i.e. not just at exam time), can make your child’s academic life much easier.  However, these skills can also be very beneficial in their lives after school, whatever it is that they choose to do.   Therefore, it is never too soon, or too late, to start teaching our children these important life skills!

I have talked about many of these topics in the past so, rather than reinvent the wheel, I have included links to my previous posts.

The importance of study skills

Fighting procrastination

How can you motivate your children to do well in school?

How to study effectively

Memory Techniques

Mnemonic Study Strategies

Test Writing Strategies

Managing anxiety (during tests and other stressful situations)



Studying spelling words

For the past three or so years, my daughter has brought home a list of spelling words to learn every week (quiz on Fridays).  English is a very difficult language to learn, due to all the ‘exceptions’ and silent letters, so there are many times when you can’t sound out the word, but must simply memorize the spelling (I didn’t realize how tricky English was until I had to help my daughter learn it).  Kids don’t tend to have much tolerance for repetition, but the reality is that this is what helps our brains store information in long-term memory so that we are able to retrieve it when needed.  So, how can we help our children learn techniques for studying spelling words more effectively?

It has been proven that memory is enhanced by the use of multiple senses, so have your child read the words, spell them out loud and write them out five times each (however, have them check the spelling of the word after they write it once, so they are not practicing the wrong spelling).  When my daughter comes home with the spelling words written in her planner, I have her copy them into a binder that I keep by the kitchen table, so that I can quiz her whenever I get a minute.  She tends to get rather irritated when I quiz her on the easier words so, once she proves to me that she can spell these words, I only quiz her on the more difficult ones.

Memory enhancement techniques can also come in handy.  Sometimes, we sing the letters in a rhythm or to a familiar tune, or use some other cue to help her remember (e.g. to remember the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’, notice that the word ‘there’ contains the word ‘here’ which suggests location versus possession).  For ongoing spelling practice that’s also fun, try playing spelling games such as Scrabble or Bananagrams with your child.

This article provides some great tips to help your children study their spelling words.


Click here for the full article.

Sometimes it seems as though good spelling and grammar are becoming obsolete (what with spell check and the various acronyms that have become a standard part of our vocabulary), but I think they are still valuable skills to have and will be valued in the workplace for many years to come.   In addition, any strategies that help our kids remember information, can be invaluable in virtually every facet of life.

If you’re interested in helping your children learn effective study habits, you may also wish to read my posts on ‘Mnemonic Study Strategies’, ‘Memory Techniques’ and ‘How to study effectively’.




The importance of study skills

As busy parents, most of us have spent very little time thinking about the importance of study skills, although the majority of us would agree that we would like our children to have “good study habits”.   We try fervently to convince our children of the importance of studying so that they can achieve academic success and honors status.  However, we rarely consider how, in addition to helping our children ‘ace’ their next test, study skills can actually assist our children in many other aspects of their current and future lives.

The below video talks about the importance of good study skills, not just as it relates to our children’s academic lives, but also within a broader context (e.g. in the work world).  It claims that study skills are so important because learning them requires us to master the essential life skills of critical thinking, collaboration and problem-solving.

I would go even further and assert that the process of learning study skills, teaches our children such valuable life skills as discipline, focus, organization, persistence and staying calm in the face of adversity (come to think of it, this is the life skill that parents need when we try to help our kids with their studying!!).

Give this video a listen and see what you think!

Watch this video on YouTube: Cost of NOT Teaching Study Skills

Our kids live in a very competitive world and that’s not likely to change.  If we can provide them with the study skills that they can use to excel both in school and beyond, then why not do it?  But let’s not wait until they’re faced with college exams before we teach our children how to study.  Instead, let’s begin teaching them what they need to know in the early grades, so that they can start benefiting right away!