There’s no question that study skills are a necessary part of life-long learning success. Without the skills necessary to organize and review information, the memorization and application of knowledge that’s essential for education becomes harder than it has to be. Parents are often concerned about their children’s study skills – and rightly so. Teachers struggle to meet the basic elements of the curriculum and never get the opportunity to expand their lessons to include other advanced concepts. Many students enter college with little or no study skills at all. This is a problem that has to be corrected and parents have the power to do so.
Here are twelve of the most important thing you need to know about encouraging the development of good study skills.
- Study skills require the strategic use of tools and the responsible use of the time available. Know when to use flash cards and when to use written notes. Break down a study schedule into portions dedicated to certain tasks.
- Repetition is important – but not to every subject! For instance, math skills, spelling, reading, foreign language pronunciation, and technical musical skills are built through repetition. Certain other subjects do not benefit from rote repetition. Any applied subject, such as writing composition, has to be learned through doing rather than just reviewing the information over and over again.
- Time management is a key element of successful studying. The hours spent in front of a textbook won’t be very effective if your child is constantly interrupted. Turn off the TV, put away the video games, and insist that music players be tucked out of sight until study time is over.
- Be aware of what your child needs to know. Parents sometimes forget that the “easy” information taught in school to children under twelve years of age is the most fundamental information of all. Reading, spelling, arithmetic, basic geography, US history, science fundamentals, and similar educational building blocks are absolutely crucial. If this information is not firmly in place by the time a child enters middle school or junior high, there is little chance that they’ll catch up. Early intervention in the form of private tutoring or enrollment in focused learning courses may be necessary to give your child the boost they need.
- Just as you should give your child a boost if they’re having difficulty with certain academic subjects, you should encourage them if they show promise in certain areas. Many communities offer subject-specific classes to students during summer vacation. High schools and junior highs have responded to parents’ requests for accelerated learning programs. It’s also easy to find reasonably priced college prep courses that help get students ready for the academic challenges of higher education.
- Make studying and learning part of regular home life. You can encourage your child to apply their study skills by helping them plan study sessions, especially when there’s a big test coming up. Encourage your child’s interests and show them how subjects are connected to one another. An interest in dinosaurs can be channeled into story writing; a fascination with animals can spark a discussion about habitats and biology.
- Don’t rule out private tutoring. Some parents are reluctant to investigate private tutoring as an educational option for their child. There might be concern over the cost or the time commitment necessary. In reality, private tutoring can be very affordable; tutors may charge by the session or may arrange for a certain number of sessions for one flat rate. Students who are in need of extra help or extra attention can benefit from working with a tutor.
- Talk with other parents. Concerns about a child’s academic performance aren’t unusual; in fact, it’s a common concern among parents. If you want recommendations for tutors or feedback on local learning programs, simply talk with other parents. They’ll give you the best information.
- Create an environment where learning is possible. Homes are naturally full of life but a busy, noise-filled environment doesn’t make it easy to study. Work with your child to plan a scheduled period of study and then do your best to stick to it. Arrange for daycare or babysitting for younger siblings. Minimize the use of loud appliances during study time.
- Other obstacles may exist. No parent likes to consider the possibility that their child may have a learning disability, but these conditions are surprisingly common. Dyslexia, autism, ADHD, sight problems, and other conditions can make learning very difficult. Don’t hesitate to have your child tested if you have any concerns.
Lauren Hill is a freelance writer and mother who finds great joy in writing on issues affecting her children. She is a contributing author for School Tutoring Academy, a tutoring company offering services in reading, math, science and English as well as test prep.