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 www.yourdictionary.com 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.

spelling

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’.

 

 

 

Helping kids with homework

There are definitely different “schools” of thought when it comes to the involvement of parents in their children’s homework.  One thing is clear though, parents should never complete homework (or projects) for their children, as this ensures that very little, if any, learning will take place.

So, what role can parents play with respect to helping kids with homework?  I believe that children should be responsible for completing their homework but that parents can help guide them along the way, teaching them important study and life skills in the process.

For example, parents can teach children discipline by setting a time to complete work and sticking to it.  We can teach our kids to be organized by having a study space free of distractions and where they have easy access to whatever supplies they need.  We can also teach them the value of planning by making sure instructions are followed and timelines are met (e.g. have them spend a bit of time before they start working on a project to identify project tasks and when they need to be completed).

Whenever possible, try to encourage your children to be independent learners, looking to external sources for answers (e.g. a thesaurus, their teacher, discussions in class), rather than counting on you to supply them.

Check out this great article for more ways parents can help manage their children’s learning and create independent and savvy learners.

learning_management

Click here to view the full article.

Helping kids with homework is tricky at best (after all, we as parents clearly “don’t know anything”), so maybe the best guidance we can offer our children is to teach them about the process to be followed when studying and completing projects.  Rest assured, they will use these skills in many capacities throughout their lifetimes.

If you’re interested in teaching your children study skills, you may also wish to read my posts on “Preparing to study“, “How to study effectively” and “Memory Techniques“.

 

Memory Techniques

Let’s face it, we could all use a few memory techniques (I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve stood in a room and tried desperately to recall why I’m there)!

Many kids assume that, if they just read over their notes enough times, they will memorize the content and be able to regurgitate it for the test.  Unfortunately, this is not really the case.  Although memory does require some repetition, there are much more effective study techniques than simple rote memorization.  To really transfer the information from short to long-term memory, so that it can be retrieved when needed, a number of different methods can be used with much greater success.

The below memory tips and techniques are being provided to the medical and dental faculties at the University of Manitoba, but are applicable to anyone who wants to train their brain to remember things more effectively.

memory_techniques
Click here for the complete article.

Regardless of the age of your children, there are at least a few memory techniques that they could be using to study more effectively.  Start off with a couple of the more enjoyable ones first (e.g. creating silly songs and mnemonics), then go from there!

If you’re interested in teaching your children good study habits, you may also wish to read my post entitled 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!