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Good Study Habits = Good Grades

HWI trust all parents know how true that statement is. Your children were not born knowing how best to study their school
lessons. I have heard parents yelling at their child because their grades were terrible. Then they would say to them,“You need to learn to study better “. Did they do that because they themselves do not know how to study in order to learn new things? It is likely their parents told them they needed to learn how to study better. We tend to pass on what and how our parents taught us.

As parents it is your responsibility to set a good example. If you were never taught how to study in order to remember what you have read or experienced, then it would be difficult to teach your children good study habits. You need to help your children developed good study habits. Even if you don’t know how to study, you need to sit down with your child and help them come up with new ideas for helping them learn and remember what they study. You can always find a tutor to teach study habits and subjects such as algebra.

For many of us we can read all day, but may not remember most of what we read. That’s why it’s important to help your child learn how to study in order to remember what they have studied. Since everyone is an individual, not every solution will be helpful with every child. It may take trial and error, probably more error than success. You and your child, together, must find what works best for them. The most important thing is don’t give up. The result will more than makeup for the time and work both of you have put in to learning good study habits.

A child that learns good study habits will grow into a well rounded adult. Good study habits will influence them for the rest of their life.

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Bright ideas from our readers: Homework help

GreatSchools’ readers share their ideas for avoiding battles on the homefront over homework.

Is homework a struggle at your house? You’re not alone. Many parents have been there and wrote to share their advice about what helped end the homework battles with their kids.

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Establish a Routine

Many parents say setting a regular time and routine for homework is crucial.

Making homework a habit:

One parent of a fifth-grader writes: “We pick up our son from school and immediately sit down at the kitchen island to open the backpack, eat a snack and immediately start the homework.

“Our son has been doing this routine since he was in the first grade. As such, on rare occasion when a friend comes home with us after school, the friend has said, ‘Bobby, what do you want to do?’ My son responds, ‘Well, we can do anything but not until we get our homework done.’ If ever a routine has established a pattern, this is it.

“One day we were talking about colleges and we said that sometimes you can choose which days to attend classes in college, like Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and when you want to take class, like in the morning or afternoon, or evening. His comment was, ‘If I did my homework right after class, then I am free to do whatever I want?’

“Let’s hope this thinking pattern for homework is for a lifetime.”

Five simple rules:

“Consistency is the key. Stick with a homework routine,” another parent writes in sharing rules that worked for her:

  1. Establish a daily routine.
  2. Structure after-school activities to allow for homework at a set time every day.
  3. Stick to the routine so your child will know what is expected.
  4. Stay organized and keep homework area free from clutter, noise and distractions, such as television, games and radio.
  5. Praise your child when the homework is complete and allow free time after homework time is over.

Vary the Scene

Other parents said changing the scene helped their children focus, particularly as kids get older.

Study in a cafe:

An Illinois mother of a sixth-grade boy and eighth-grade girl writes: “When homework becomes a dreaded chore, I find new places to go and do homework, for instance, Starbucks, the library, a cafe. It’s interesting to find that when you offer up a new place to study, homework appears where they said there was none.”

Make the library your home base:

“One thing I have done is to take them to the library to do their homework,” writes a Colorado mother of three boys, 12, 16 and 20. “There are no distractions from home, and they can focus just on the task at hand. Plus, there are all the available resources we need there. It is especially helpful to get a study room when we can. That way, we can talk and study things without disturbing anyone. The library we go to has white boards in the study rooms, which we have used occasionally just for something different (doing spelling words on it instead of writing them on paper, for example). This seemed to also break up the monotony of the homework ordeal. An added bonus is that our library has a coffee shop inside with Italian sodas, etc. This can be used as an incentive!”

HELP WITH TIME MANAGEMENT

Break projects into manageable chunks:

“If there is a project due, we separate it into how much time we have and then do a little each day,” one mom writes. “We do the same for a book report. I count the number of pages and divide it by the number of days they have to read it and give them two days to write it. We do a ‘sloppy copy’ and we do a final draft. …”

Build in breaks:

A California mom of a kindergartner writes: “Have short time frames planned out. Kids get restless without breaks. Maybe 15 minutes of work, then a three-minute break.

“Remove any distraction – TV, snacks, cell calls, don’t let them think they are missing out on anything by doing homework.

“Reward them if they are focused on any given day.

“Talk about homework as if it is a natural part of your schedule. “Don’t say, ‘You have to do homework first.’ It becomes too much of a task. Say, ‘OK, it’s homework time. Let’s get started.’ Always start (at the) same time every day. In that way, they feel it’s just what you do, there are no options!”

HELP YOUR CHILD IDENTIFY WHAT WORKS 

A trick to stay focused:

“I let my 7-year old daughter chew gum while she does her homework,” says a Washington, D.C., mom. “She says it keeps her ‘focused.'”

REWARD A JOB WELL DONE 

Star system:

“I have a 10-year-old that sits right down the minute she gets home and does all her homework. Unfortunately, the same is not true of our 7-year-old,” a mom writes. “We tried nagging, taking away privileges to no avail. Homework was a chore and stressful for all of us. Until we devised the star system. He has 30 minutes to finish his homework (they are given about 10-15 minutes worth of homework). Neatness and correct spelling count. If he beats the clock, he gets a star. He must get all five stars that week for the reward to take place. Once he has five stars he can pick anything he wants to do, and the whole family has to come along. Our weekends are now occupied with bowling, mountain biking, eating at his favorite hamburger place and the homework woes are behind us.”

Use healthy activity as a reward:

“Homework has been a breeze with one of mine but with the other it has been an unbelievable uphill battle, especially this year,” writes a single mother of three daughters, two of them school age.

“Our town just built an indoor pool and since it is winter in Vermont, swimming at this time of year is considered ‘awesome’ by all three of the kids. So, we set up a reward program: Every night that they can show me that they have completed their homework while at the after-school program or did as much as the people there could help them with, then we will grab a quick sandwich at home and swim for about two hours before the pool closes. Either one whose homework was not done due to lack of genuine effort has to come and just sit on the pool deck to do their homework while the sisters and I swim. This has worked like a charm!

“Find a good, wholesome activity that your kid really likes and that you know you can commit to every night if your kid lives up to their end of the bargain, then make it contingent upon their completion of homework (or for older kids, hard work on it for a set amount of time). If they can’t do the activity because they did not do their part, they have no one to blame but themselves, right?”

TURN WORK INTO A GAME 

Beat the clock:

Our son has yet to get real homework, but he does math and reading practice work,” an Oregon mother of a six-year-old writes. “There are many times that he tries to complain and get out of it. A good tool is using stop watches for math. Boys like being challenged and to beat their previous time. …

“We also try to divide some of the homework (on weekends), half in the morning, the other half at night (reading is good at night and for 30 minutes). It also helps if mom/dad or sibling is sitting too, doing their homework or busy work at the same time to show that he/she is not the only one who has to do something.”

Be Available

Many readers emphasized the importance of being available to help, even though it can be a challenge for a busy parent to carve out time every day to do so.

Make the kitchen table a homework center:

A Connecticut mother of two, ages 9 and 13, says talking to her children about homework is valuable for them – and for her. “I give my kids a snack with a drink while doing their homework. Also I sit at the table, discuss it with them. They like to share their homework with me and I also have learned from them …When they have a test coming up in school we play a game out of their studying to make sure they know the material for the test…”

Do your own “homework” at the same time:

“I find that it is helpful to let my daughter have her snack after school, watch a little television and unwind from the long day before I have her start her homework,” writes a single Arizona mom of a 7-year-old. “I also take time from my busy schedule to sit with her and either read or do my bills so that she understands it is quiet time. She doesn’t feel so bad if she’s not the only one concentrating on something. Believe me, not all days are so easy!”

Helping a child with ADD:

“My tips are certainly not new, but they have been very instrumental in helping my son with ADD do his homework,” writes a mother who describes herself as a “military mom on the move.” “We have learned that giving short breaks help along with allowing the child to pick what subject they want to tackle first. Giving your child options lets them feel more in control of their surroundings, which in turn creates a better work environment. This would be great for all kids, not just children who have a hard time focusing. I also recommend setting time aside for your child, in case they need help. I make sure I sit in the same room with my child and can get to him quickly when he gets frustrated or needs help.

“I also have a child who needs no help with homework. Don’t take this for granted. Always ask what they are doing, if it is difficult and if they like a certain subject or not. This may help eliminate surprises when it is time for progress reports/ reports cards to be sent home.”

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Five Key Skills for Academic Success

It’s never too early or too late to help your child develop the skills for academic success. Learn how to build these skills and stay on track all year long.

It takes a combination of skills — organization, time management, prioritization, concentration and motivation — to achieve academic success. Here are some tips to help get your child on the right track.

btn arrow Talk to your Child

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To find out which of these skills your child has and which he can develop further, start a simple conversation that focuses on his goals. Ask him about his favorite subjects, classes he dreads and whether he’s satisfied with his latest progress report.

btn arrow Listen for Clues

Incorporate your own observations with your child’s self-assessment. Is your child overwhelmed by assignments? She may have trouble organizing time. Does your child have difficulty completing her work? She may get distracted too easily. Is your child simply not interested in school? She may need help getting motivated.

btn arrow Identify Problem Areas

Start here to help your child identify which of the five skill areas are trouble spots.

1. Organization

Whether it’s keeping track of research materials or remembering to bring home a lunch box, children need to be organized to succeed in school. For many students, academic challenges are related more to a lack of organization than to a lack of intellectual ability.

Tips to help your child get organized:

  • Make a checklist of things your child needs to bring to and from school every day. Put a copy by the door at home and one in his backpack. Try to check with him each day to see if he remembers the items on the list.
  • Find out how your child keeps track of his homework and how he organizes his notebooks. Then work together to develop a system he will want to use.
  • Shop with your child for tools that will help him stay organized, such as binders, folders or an assignment book.

2. Time Management

Learning to schedule enough time to complete an assignment may be difficult for your student. Even when students have a week to do a project, may won’t start until the night before it’s due. Learning to organize time into productive blocks takes practice and experience.

Tip to help your child manage time:

  • Track assignments on a monthly calendar. Work backward from the due date of larger assignments and break them into nightly tasks.
  • Help your child record how much time she spends on homework each week so she can figure out how to divide this time into manageable chunks.
  • Together, designate a time for nightly homework and help your child stick to this schedule.
  • If evenings aren’t enough, help your child find other times for schoolwork, such as early mornings, study halls or weekends.

3. Prioritization

Sometimes children fall behind in school and fail to hand in assignments because they simply don’t know where to begin. Prioritizing tasks is a skill your child will need throughout life, so it’s never too soon to get started.

The questionnaire

Tips to help your child prioritize:

  • Ask your child to write down all the things he needs to do, including non-school-related activities.
  • Ask him to label each task from 1 to 3, with 1 being most important.
  • Ask about each task, so that you understand your child’s priorities. If he labels all his social   activities as 1, then you know where his attention is focused.
  • Help your child change some of the labels to better prioritize for academic success. Then suggest he rewrite the list so all the 1s are at the top.
  • Check in frequently to see how the list is evolving and how your child is prioritizing new tasks.

4. Concentration

Whether your child is practicing her second-grade spelling words or studying for a trigonometry test, it’s important that she works on schoolwork in an area with limited distractions and interruptions.

Tips to help your child concentrate:

  • Turn off access to email and games when your child works on the computer.
  • Declare the phone and TV off-limits during homework time.
  • Find space that fits the assignment. If your child is working on a science project, she may need lots of space; if she’s studying for a Spanish test, she will need a well-lit desk.
  • Help your child concentrate during homework time by separating her from her siblings.

5. Motivation 

Most children say they want to do well in school, yet many still fail to complete the level of work necessary to succeed academically. The reason is often motivation. Tapping into your child’s interests is a great way to get him geared to do well in school.

Tips to help motivate your child:

  • Link school lessons to your child’s life. If he’s learning percentages, ask him to figure out the price of a discounted item next time you shop.
  • Link your child’s interests to academics. If he’s passionate about music, give him books about musicians and show how music and foreign languages are connected.
  • Give your child control and choices. With guidance, let him determine his study hours, organizing system or school project topics.
  • Encourage your child to share his expertise. Regularly ask him about what he’s learning in school.
  • Congratulate your child, encourage him and celebrate all his successes.

Often what holds children back from trying is the fear of failure or the memory of a time they didn’t do well. You can help break this cycle by celebrating your child’s successes, no matter how small, and by giving him opportunities to succeed academically.

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