Your elementary school-aged child may not yet have encountered intensive studying or lengthy projects. However, this is a great time to begin instilling good study habits in your child. At this impressionable age, children can begin to grasp the importance of structured study and its long-term educational benefits. Older students, such as those in grades four and five, can benefit from guidance when it comes to implementing positive study habits, and younger students can begin absorbing the basics of these good habits.
Looking to help your student head back to school on the right foot? Here are three study habits to teach your child this fall.
1. Encourage a regular homework routine.
Elementary-school students often participate in a number of after-school activities. Even though your schedule may be busy once the school day ends, it’s crucial to create and execute a consistent homework routine at home. Set aside a designated amount of time each afternoon or evening for your child to tackle any homework. At the beginning of homework time, have her review what assignments she’ll be working on that day. Next, help her prioritize tasks in an order that suits her best. If your student has little or no homework one day, fill the remaining time with reading or another educational activity. Establishing a homework routine teaches students the importance of staying on top of assigned tasks.
Additionally, encourage productivity by creating a positive study environment. Eliminate obstacles, like technology, that can hinder your student’s concentration. Ensure there are minimal distractions in her study space so she can have the best chance of success.
2. Foster independent work habits.
While forming a structured study routine is vital, it’s most successful when your student engages in independent study during this time. Remain present with your younger student in order to provide support when needed, but encourage him to seek out answers on his own before stepping in to help. For an older student, motivate him to work through problems himself as opposed to giving him the answers. If he is unsure of a math solution, for example, prompt him to walk you through how he thinks the problem should be executed. This will allow you to understand where he may be confused and illustrate to him how verbalizing concerns can help solve problems.
Encouraging independent study in your student allows him to learn to work through issues on his own and strengthens problem-solving skills. Regardless of age, establish semester goals with your student, and identify with him specific ways he can work to accomplish them. This may be as simple as getting good grades on spelling tests. Have him note ways he can practice his spelling each week leading up to tests in order to reach his goal. Independent study habits boil down to your child feeling ownership of his education—therefore, these habits can look different for each student and each age group. Assess your student’s workload and current study habits so you can successfully establish the right type of independent work for him.
3. Promote essential skills.
Vital skills—such as organization and time management—play directly into productive study habits. When encouraging good habits at home, discuss with your child the importance of these skills and how educational productivity stems directly from them.
It’s important for students to keep school items organized and in an easily accessible place. With students facing weekly, monthly, and quarterly deadlines, it can be helpful to keep a planner or calendar to identify these commitments. Have your child help with this so she will be able to understand how her deadlines work. At the start of each week, review what will be expected of her in the coming days, and address any questions or concerns she may have. Motivating your student to stay organized, both with assignments and supplies, can help her to understand the importance of this skill to her ultimate educational success.
Older students can practice time management through a variety of techniques. Have your child create homework timelines each night to help her learn to prioritize important tasks and spend the appropriate amount of time on each. Though younger students can’t compose study timelines, they can learn and execute basic time-management skills. Explain to her the importance of working through tasks in a timely manner and not getting sidetracked by outside distractions.
When teaching your student good study habits this fall, have an open conversation about areas where she may benefit from more structured practice. Instilling positive study habits in students at a young age can set them up for overall academic success.
Caitlin Grove is an Associate Content Coordinator for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.
Studying can be a true challenge for children—for some, the thought of having to sit at a desk for hours alone causes dread. It can be difficult to think of ways to help make your elementary school student’s studying less tedious, so here are three creative ways to help.
Role-playing can easily energize a study session. Many children already use this strategy during their free time, so the association of role-play with an exciting activity can work to increase positive energy around studying. Role-play suits any character, but it can be particularly helpful to ask your child to be a teacher. You can be the student. Children can learn a great deal when they teach material to someone else. Speaking through it helps them to articulate concepts and ideas. It also reveals gaps in their knowledge, which they can use to better target their review. You can ask questions that a student would ask in order to test your child’s knowledge of the material.
You might also try bringing other characters into the mix. Examples include Kermit the Frog or Hermione Granger—any persona that would be fun!
While studying is traditionally associated with sitting down at a desk or table, this doesn’t suit every learning style—particularly kinesthetic learners. But kinesthetic learning, which focuses on physical activities, isn’t just for kinesthetic learners. Nearly every child can benefit from associating study material with movement. If the weather is nice, go outside and take a walk with your child. The change in scenery can reinvigorate his study time, and the elements in the environment and in specific movements can strengthen the associations his brain makes with concepts. For example, try quizzing him—or have him quiz himself—while hopping or jumping. This can provide a new way to access information; your child can recall “the topic I studied while hopping.”
This strategy can involve any type of art. Drawing, painting, sculpture, and sketching are all great ways to visualize information that might otherwise stay stagnant on the page. Encourage your child to represent new concepts or ideas in as many ways as possible: mind maps, tables, webs, etc. Perhaps there’s one specific type of visualization that she gravitates toward. This method can help her understand facts and relationships that might otherwise be hard to describe verbally. You might also have your child try different mediums beyond paper and pencil, marker, and crayon. Keep in mind that they don’t even need to be permanent works of art. Perhaps she would like to practice math problems with shaving cream in the bathtub, or spell words using magnetic letters on the refrigerator. Maybe you could create a story together around specific terms or vocabulary words that she needs to remember.
Finally, studying can be both more enjoyable and productive with a buddy. That buddy might be you, a willing sibling, or a friend.
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.