Study Skills for Making the Grade

Making the grade or achieving success in school is something all parents want for their children. Why is it that some children are so successful and others struggle to get C’s? Ask parents and teachers for an answer to this question and you could get as many points of view as individuals you ask. We all bring our personal experiences to the table. For some, learning comes easily, almost too easily, for others; learning is involved and hard work. Regardless of learning style or how easily a person acquires knowledge, here is one area that can help level the playing field – – – – well-developed study skills. Students who know how to study and parents who know how to create a strong study environment often find success easier to achieve. If the adults in a child’s world value homework time, then the child will value homework time.

What are good study skills? After thirty years in the classroom, I might have an idea or two that I can share to help parents and children level the playing field and improve grades.

Things students can do:

Be an active listener when in class. Learn to keep their thoughts directed on what they are listening to. (In most cases people talk at about 125 words per minute. However, we think at a speed of almost 400 words per minute. That means our thoughts move much faster than the words we are listening to.) Write down assignments daily. If there is no assignment for that day they should write down “no assignment.” Before leaving class for the day students should make sure they understand the homework assignment. Have a study buddy, a student to call for assignments in event of absence When sitting down to study, tackle the most difficult assignments first. When first sitting down to study they are likely the most alert and able to sort through difficult tasks more easily than if they put them off until last. Study in short bursts of time; 20-30 minutes at a time with brief breaks in between. Students will stay focused for 20-30 minutes if they know there will be a break.

Things parents can do:

Children need a place to study. They need a flat surface in a quiet area surrounded by the materials they will need to complete assignments. Materials include pens, pencils, eraser, paper, a pencil sharpener, rulers and good lighting. Depending on the assignment, they may also need a calculator, scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils, tape and/or glue. If you have a desk that you can designate as the study area that will be available for your child during homework time, outfit the desk and you’re ready to move to the next step. If you don’t have a desk and your study space is the kitchen or dining room table, then find a basket or other container, fill it with study materials and make the basket available during study time. Kids can be defeated easily if they don’t have the materials they need to complete assignments. Provide your child with a consistent routine and designated study time. Establish a regular routine and expectation that your child will study during the same time every day. This is not a time that you fit in around everything else going on. Other activities should fit in around homework time. Having said that, students should always have a break between school time and homework time. If that break includes an activity, that’s fine as long as they know when the “break” is over, it will be time to settle down and do homework. Make sure there are no interruptions for the child who is doing homework. Interruptions include phone calls, television watching, computer play or visits with siblings; anything that would prevent a child from focusing on homework should not be allowed.

Though this is by no means a comprehensive list of study skills that can help improve a child’s success in school it’s a good beginning.

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