Studying for Success

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Whether your children are in first grade or fifth grade, or even if they’re freshmen in high school, studying is beneficial only if they know what to study and how to study it. Many parents assume students know how to study, but many times they don’t.

Here are some ways to help your children start the school year off right with good study habits.

Use a Study Plan
Using a weekly calendar, create study plan that is divided into half-hour blocks. With the help of your children, write down exactly what they are going to study in each of the blocks. For fourth- and fifth-grade students, the blocks would be dedicated to reading, math, science and social studies. Science and social studies typically require no more than 15 minutes of studying. One 30-minute block would probably be needed for math. One block should also be for reading. Use timers because they are wonderful tools for helping children stay focused and productive! At the conclusion of a study period, ask your kids to verbalize to you what they have learned.

For middle school students, each half-hour block should be divided into 15 minutes of studying and 15 minutes of homework. For high school students each block should be noted as either studying or doing homework. Typically, high school students on the block schedule have two or three core academic classes each semester – meaning they should spend about two hours studying and doing homework each night.

Older students need to understand precisely what they need to do when they study. Studying a textbook or notes involves writing down lists of facts or paragraph summaries of what has been studied. Then on the next day, students reread those summaries before reading and writing a new summary.

Hold Kids Accountable
If your children choose not to study and just to sit in the middle of an empty room with no music or TV, that’s their choice. Do not allow them to pull out a cell phone to text their friends or go outside to shoot baskets instead of studying.
Remember, the established study hours are not optional – they should study history every night, for example, from 7 to 8, regardless of whether they have homework or not. If your kids say they do not have any homework or studying to do, make up an assignment for them. Ask them to open the newspaper and find an interesting world news article. Tell them to read it and write a paragraph summary.

Be Firm on Bedtime
Sleepy children cannot pay attention in class. Be sure to establish a consistent bedtime hour that allows them the opportunity to get plenty of sleep. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it has created a whole generation of kids who are not sleeping enough at night. If your children have access to a cell phone or computer at night, reclaim it! Then, make sure they have done all the get-ready-for-bed things at least 30 minutes before they should be asleep.

Frequently, high school students, get into the bad habit of napping in the afternoon. Unless there is a medical reason for them to take a nap from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., break that habit. How can they possibly be tired at 10 p.m. if they woke up just a few hours ago? Reclaim their afternoon hours and make them productive.

Jackie Pace is the executive director of the Huntington Learning Centers in South Charlotte (704-542-5421) and in Huntersville (704-896-9699).