Set your child up for success with these 5 study habits.

As we approach the end of the year, students have an opportunity to really show their teachers, and themselves, what they can achieve academically. To do this successfully, students have to prepare for the occasion. To assist your child with developing healthy and successful study habits, it is important to check in with them to understand their goals and to ensure they have set themselves up for success.

Research suggests that many students feel overwhelmed with study because they do not know how to do it properly or they have set unrealistic expectations for themselves.

Studying can take many forms; it can be an independent task or it can be quite a social activity between parent and child, or by working with peers. Studying a broad range of topics and concepts can be extremely overwhelming for a child and thus, it is important to establish a study routine where they can focus on short 20 minute blocks, two or three times per night, with breaks in between.

We have developed 5 tips to encourage students to develop their own individual study, creating an achievable and rewarding routine.

Tip #1 - Develop a study schedule

Understanding the importance of routine in children's daily lives is fundamental in developing their study schedule. They work to timetables in school where they are exposed to many different subjects each day. They recognise and understand that they are expected to come to class prepared and have their homework completed. This kind of routine can be mirrored at home with a study schedule.

Establishing a study schedule and sticking to it may seem challenging in the short term, but over time you will start to see positive changes. The most important thing to do when establishing any kind of routine is to create a plan that everyone has access to. Write the plan on a whiteboard or have a print out on the fridge so that you can visualise where your time gaps are. Studying does not have to be an all-night affair, it can just be one hour each night for many students and it is important to make it task or goal focused.

Tip #2 - Short study sessions

Have you ever done a HIIT workout at the gym? High-intensity bursts of exercise at a constant pace is considered more effective than a regular workout as it continues to provide physical benefits days after you have trained. Much like a physical workout, our brains respond better to consistent bursts of short study sessions. This way, each study period focuses on one key concept that can be examined comprehensively and enables your child’s brain to strengthen their understanding. Having a quick rest in between can help to rejuvenate the brain so it is ready to absorb new information.

How do you implement this in their study routine ? Try 20-minute study periods two to three times per night and see if your child notices the difference. During these quick rests of about 10 minutes, ensure they drink plenty of water, keep their eyes away from screens (including televisions) and do some physical activity.

Tip #3 - Revisit wrong answers

An effective study habit is one which includes revisiting questions which posed complex to your child in the past. The process of recalling information helps to activate the brain, encouraging your child to understand what the learning task is all about. By typing up any questions where marks have been lost we create an ultimate exam. Resitting it can build confidence and ensure our knowledge has grown from that point.

Taking many practice exams and tests will help to identify where the gaps are in understanding, especially if you can look up the correct answer to backtrack the process.

How can you help as a parent? If your child likes to be creative, you can make flashcards together and even create a quiz game so that it becomes more exciting for them. Flashcards and image aids are used extensively in universities and private tutoring to help those who are more visual learners be more responsive to study.

Alternatively, it is great to read a chapter of text with your child and mini-test them so they can digest information and actively track how well they are understanding the content. Recalling important moments of each chapter will help to solidify new learnings.

Tip #4 - Let the pupil become the teacher

Research suggests that those who verbalise their thinking were able to understand and make note of where they need additional information.

On exams and tests, teachers are looking for students who demonstrate knowledge comprehension. A great way to develop this knowledge comprehension is to allow your child to teach you what they are learning. This will give your child the opportunity to self-assess, identifying information gaps in the brain.

What can you do as a parent? As a parent, it is not important for you to learn the content but instead to learn what questions to ask. Try different question ideas such as: who, what, when, where, why, how. Asking these simple questions gives your child information that is multidimensional. These metacognitive monitoring activities are an important component of effective study.

Tip #5 - Get creative with your study

According to many educational psychologists, the enthusiasm towards studying and positive study habits can be directly linked to performance as seen in this equation:

Performance = Drive x Habit (Eysenck, 1957).

Some students have little motivation to study and that can be due to their psychological approach to studying and school. When you think of studying, do you think of a student sitting alone, reading and highlighting passages of text? Study can, in fact, be done in an infinite number of ways that can engage parents, peers and teachers.

What does an engaging study routine look like? Study methods can include watching video tutorials, rewriting notes, making flashcards, presenting posters, verbally explaining the ideas and concepts to someone else and studying in groups so that children can bounce information off each other.

How do you establish creative study techniques ? Attention grabbing material is key! Our brain works so that it computes only the stimuli that are most engaging or memorable. Attention-grabbing facts, images and charts are powerful in a child’s mind. Bright colours and easy-to-digest visuals are what quickly absorb into the brain. These stimuli send a message to the brain that this particular concept is worth noticing.

Creating the right environment

Creating an environment at home that is conducive to studying is imperative for a successful academic journey. The less distraction of screens, music and other sounds, the more conducive the study environment and the better the brain can function. Teaching healthy habits around study will ensure your child is confident and equipped with the necessary tools to achieve their true potential in an exam setting.

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