The honeymoon phase of going back to school is over. All the fun of having a new class schedule, fresh supplies, and clothing for the fall is wearing thin, and instead, the regular grueling hours of listening to lectures followed by hours and hours of homework, study guides, and projects. Students often exhibit myopia and find themselves studying for tests, quizzes, and grades; however, the adults in their lives know that the purpose of learning is for life-long benefit, not a mark on a paper. If you want to encourage your child to learn and absorb, not to memorize and forget, here are some quality study habits you can instill.
Noise or no noise? Every single child has a different “ideal” study space. For some, it’s a completely silent room with little to no decor so that they can zero-in all their attention to the task at hand. Other students like music and colors to keep them energized throughout the stretch of studying. There’s no wrong way to study, but each student needs to figure out (perhaps by trial and error) their ideal noise level and tolerance of distractions.
Audio, Visual, or Tactile Learner? In addition to finding out the level of activity that will distract them, students also need to determine the best way for them to take information in so that it sticks and is easily accessible in their memories both for an examination and for general reference throughout their lives. Some students need visuals, including diagrams and physical models. Others need to hear information over and over, as in an audiobook, podcast, or YouTube tutorial. Still another group needs to touch and interact with what they’re learning, either by rewriting notes multiple times over or by otherwise providing themselves with sensory ways to remember the material.
Organize organize organize: Again, there’s no “right” way to organize, but a disorganized student is one who will constantly lose important papers, forget deadlines, and thus have less cognitive capacity for learning. Help your student to keep assignments, notes, and old graded tests in some semblance of an order. It may not make sense to you, but you student needs to have an order and a pattern to making everything fit.
Work till you’re Stuck: It’s easy as a parent or tutor to come rushing to the aid of a child who cries, “I can’t figure it out!” Rather than jump to the rescue, though, encourage your student to try something — anything — and to work until they can’t anymore. Sometimes, an issue will unravel quickly and fall into the student’s lap if they only get started. Other times, they’ll try something and run into a dead end. Trial and error is a crucial step in the process of deeper learning and will make the concepts stick longer in your student’s memory.