7 Tips For Helping Your Child Develop Good Study Skills

At Westchester Health, we want you to know that your child’s success in school doesn’t come from any one thing — it’s the product of a combination of a good attitude, diligent study habits and consistent effort. Strong study skills are very much learned behavior, which is good news for kids and parents because it means that every student is capable of making good grades.

So as a parent, how can you help your child develop the study skills they need to achieve academic success? Here are 7 tips recommended by Edmentum that we’d like to share here.

  1. Suzanne Cutler, MD, FAAP

    Create a designated study space

It’s important for your child to have his/her own desk or workspace in your home that allows focused studying. It should be well-lit and away from distractions. Consider stocking this area with study supplies, such as colorful post-its, a variety of pens and pencils, highlighters and scratch paper. Encourage your child to take ownership over the area and decorate it the way they want. Also, teach them to clean up and organize their area each night so they’re ready to start studying next time.

  1. Keep a planner to help with time management

Time management is an incredibly important aspect of effective study skills. Make sure your child has a homework planner and keeps it up to date. He/she should write down important due dates for homework and projects; most teachers make these dates known far in advance. Beyond writing down these assignments, it’s critical is to stay on top of them. You can help your child prepare for important tests and exams by helping him/her break down the content into manageable chunks. Make a schedule for reviewing the material in the days leading up to the test. For big projects, make a timeline for when certain segments should be completed. This can offset cramming and procrastination, as well as lower stress, by making the workload feel more manageable.

  1. Take effective notes

Studies have proven that writing notes out by hand results in much better retention of the material than not taking notes at all or even using a laptop. Teaching your child to use active reading strategies — such as taking notes or highlighting key themes and passages — is also very helpful for retention.

  1. Practice for tests

Simply reviewing content before a test isn’t the best method to ensure your child is prepared for an upcoming test. Instead, encourage him/her to take a practice test if possible or using flash cards. Asking your child review questions and having them answer with short essay-style explanations aloud can also be a great strategy to make sure they truly understand the material.

  1. Avoid cramming

Studying a little bit of a subject every day is much better for long-term retention than studying for a longer period of time in a single day (or night). Help your student structure a study schedule that allows him/her to space out their review of different subjects. As little as 10 minutes of practice a day can make a big difference. Breaking up study sessions with short 15-minute breaks once every hour helps too, keeping your student focused and productive.

  1. Ask for help when needed

If your student is struggling with a specific subject or doesn’t understand the night’s homework assignment, asking for help is key. Teachers are there to help and welcome the opportunity to help your child. Also, teaching your child how to build effective relationships with other students and asking them for help is another important lesson in asking for, receiving and offering support in school and in life.

  1. Avoid distraction, and don’t forget nutrition and sleep

Teach your student to put their computer away and turn off other devices that act as distractions while they’re studying. Multi-tasking also takes away from learning, so encourage your child to focus on a single subject for a sustained period of time before moving onto another subject. Also, do everything you can to ensure your child has healthy sleeping and eating habits in order to maximize their focus and make the most of their time spent studying.

Why most kids hate homework and what to do about it

The most common reason kids avoid doing homework, says Positive Parenting Solutions, is that it feels too much like a chore. Understandably, it’s the last thing they want to do after a long day of school; they just want to relax or play. Yet, homework still needs to get done. What often works well, Positive Parenting Solutions suggests, is a “When-Then” format, such as, “When you’ve finished your homework, then you can play a video game,” or “When you’ve written out your spelling words, then you can go play outside.” This strategy decreases procrastination and reinforces task completion…a win-win!

Avoid rewards

Offering rewards is a common way to help homework-resistant kids get their work done. The problem with this strategy, however, is that it focuses on short-term motivation, says Positive Parenting Solutions. Instead, what we want our children to learn is that the end result of their hard work and diligence is completed homework, good grades, increased knowledge, mastery of a subject, effective time management and planning ahead, all of which will serve them well throughout their lives.

Read our other pediatric blogs

We’ve written a number of informative blogs about a wide variety of issues and conditions affecting children, which you can read here.

Want to know more about helping your child’s study skills? Come see us.

If you’d like more information, tips and advice about helping your child become a better studier, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment to see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We’ll share our years of experience helping students of all ages and together with you, come up with a workable plan that will help your child master effective study habits and hopefully achieve great things in school. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

By Suzanne Cutler, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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