By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Is your child a “cheerful consumer”? This child does everything requested from the school, and usually more. If your child does not have this trait, there is still hope. The following strategies will help your child develop effective studying habits.
Have your child complete daily study time. Many of today’s children live in the “now / not now” philosophy. If the teacher gives an assignment that is due next Friday, then the child files it in not now, and does not think about it until the day before it’s due (if it is remembered at all).
Even if your child claims there is no homework, make studying a daily requirement. Besides creating an academic routine, regular studying will improve test and quiz grades.
HOW TO STUDY
Re-read the key points of a chapter or notes. If there are topics that are not fully understood, your child has an opportunity to then ask a peer or teacher.
Read the upcoming unit or chapter. The brain loves to learn things that are already familiar. If the student has read ahead, the brain will recognize it during direct instruction and more efficiently form memories.
Make a flash card for each important term, person, place, date or fact from text and notes. Write the word on the blank side of an index card. Write the definition on the lined side. If the cards drop, they can be reorganized quickly.
Write the exact definition only if it will appear that way on the test. It’s usually better to have the child use words that s/he understands.
Add a mnemonic (memory cue) to help remember terms that are particularly difficult. This can be a picture, or a word game. (i.e.: The order of operations in math: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally = parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction). These mnemonic clues work best when the child creates their own.
Keep the cards together for each subject/unit.
Study the flash cards. No distractions. Learn cards in groups of 5. Read aloud, even if it is a mumble. This activates multiple senses – great for the brain.
First card: read term, then definition; read term, then definition; read term, then guess definition aloud; check definition, then read it aloud. If the card is not remembered repeat sequence. If the card is remembered place it aside.
Repeat for cards 2 through 5.
Test retention of the 5 cards before doing the same pattern for the next 5 cards.
Ask questions that are not factual. This develops the higher level thinking skills that are required in school. For example = Factual question: What is photosynthesis? Non-factual question: Why is photosynthesis important for human survival?
Teach the material to another person.
Review the material daily. Cramming for a test is not effective.Quiz yourself on the cards as often as possible.
Encourage your child to attend the teacher’s tutoring opportunities.
Have your child identify a study buddy for each subject. This person is contacted when assignments or directions are forgotten, or when concepts are not understood.
Allow your child to play music while studying or doing homework. The music tunes out distractions, and they tune out the music. There are exceptions, but don’t be too quick to rule it out.
Allow dim lighting to minimize light sensitivity.
Some children like to vary their study area: rooms, floor, chair, bed.
Minimize distractions: siblings, TV, phone, social networking, etc.
Consider sending a weekly email to the teacher(s) to find out what homework is due and what large projects and tests are coming up. You can then convert your child’s not nows into nows by breaking down the long-term project/assignment into daily tasks. Make it visual with a large calendar.
When teaching your child these strategies remember that a homework resistant child is not hoping to become the cheerful consumer. Ease into the school year with these strategies. Negotiate times and locations. And remember to have frequent, short breaks during work. (See the Homework Helper article for more tips.)
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
Published in Metro You Magazine, September 2011