By Peter Minkoff Contributing Author, a passionate writer, professional fashion, lifestyle, and health, expert
Studying has certainly changed over the years. With the access to an ever-increasing amount of information that our ancestors couldn’t even dream about, the new generations are spoiled for information. However, some things never change, as studying still requires tenacity, persistence and, most of all, habit. Preparing for tests and going through the course material has not changed that much and you as a parent might feel the need to help out. You cannot study instead of your children, but you certainly can help them develop study habits that will see them achieve success in their education.
Give them space
A proven tactic has always been to designate one location in your house for studying. Whether it is the desk in their own room or a kitchen table, a habit is created by using it daily, preferably at the same time. If you have several options for studying, there are some pointers that this is even better. One thing is certain, the space should be safe from distractions. There should be limitations to TV and smartphone access. Music is generally fine, as long as it helps them concentrate.
Scheduling is half the success
Whether it is for tests or for everyday homework, it is always good to plan ahead. Knowing the timetable goes without saying, but don’t be the kind of parent who learns it by heart just so they can answer every time their kid asks about tomorrow’s classes. That is their obligation, you are just there to check, silently, whether they are aware of their schedule.
Time habit creation
It is important to keep the study time more or less the same every day, if other obligations permit it. The reason why is simple: just like with anything else, the habits are formed by repetition. If your child arrives from school, has lunch/dinner/snack and a short rest, but knows they have to do homework before anything else, they will keep at it so that they can reach their free time. This will soon become a habit, which will keep them going, even without supervision.
For some kids, especially if they live close to each other, or they need or prefer the support of their peers, getting together with others might be just the thing that will keep them going. Older kids can organize this by themselves, but even pre-school kids can join in, as it is never too early to develop some learning habits. Learning through play is done all around the world, so you can find the best playgroup in Hong Kong or wherever you live easily.
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The mindset is one of the most important things when it comes to studying. By developing the habit, the brain also adjusts to being in “study mode” at a certain time and place and these things have a positive influence on the study process. However, sometimes you, as a parent, might need to talk to the kids about it. Encouragement can go a long way if they feel down or under a lot of pressure. Let them know you are there for them and you care.
Rewards are a double-edged sword
Be careful when handing out rewards for studying – if this is something done on regular basis, then the studying itself become connected to it and your kids will expect the reward every time they do a bit of studying. Keep it for special occasions, either when they are having difficult time with the subject or when they are trying to achieve a better grade. Keep it rare, which will make it all the more precious and motivating.
Listening is half the work
In order to help with studying, your kid should, of course, be attentive in class. Easier said than done, right? There are so many things that can divert their attention and this especially goes for teens. However, paying attention in school can go a long way in turning the homework into a breeze, which will probably be up there on the list of things your kid would desire!
Be the helping hand
Just like with rewards, your help, especially if it is a subject you possess a certain level of knowledge in can have its pros and cons. Try to resist the desire to overhelp – if you start doing all the math homework for your kid, they will not improve, quite the opposite. Consider yourself a mere consultant for some of the more difficult tasks at hand.
Examples lead the way
As always, kids learn best from the example you provide for them. If you can do your obligations on time and according to a schedule, they have someone to look up to. You cannot expect them to be jumping at the opportunity to spend time studying if they see you lazing about in front of the television all afternoon.
The most difficult part should go first
This is another piece of advice that goes against the instinct. We, as humans, are prone to laziness. And the very idea of doing the hard work first is in direct opposition to that. However, it does yield the best results, both when it comes to learning new things and when it comes to spending time. And if your kid learns to take the difficulty head on, they will have developed a habit that will help not only in studying, but in life.
Peter is a health writer at HighStyleLife magazine, living between Europe and New Zealand. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.