Good study habits don’t come naturally to grade-schoolers. But as kids start getting more homework, they’ll need to pick some up. Here are tips for helping your child develop strong, effective study habits.
1. Help your child learn to identify distractions.
Some kids can be easily distracted while they’re trying to study. That’s especially true of kids who have trouble with focus. At home, hearing siblings play might make it hard to concentrate. At their afterschool program, having friends around might make it tempting to goof off.
Establish a study area with your child. Then together, survey the space to identify things that might get in the way of studying. You and your child can work together to lessen those distractions. Your child might wear headphones, for instance, or find a quieter place to study.
2. Teach your child how to create an effective study space.
It would be great if your child could always study in a cozy room with perfect lighting and no distractions. In the real world, that’s not always possible. But your child can learn to make just about any study space more productive.
Show your child how to set up a quiet work space that’s not in the middle of too much activity. You can also help create a portable homework station to keep all of your child’s school and studying supplies handy.
3. Keep track of your child’s strengths.
Kids don’t always see their own strengths, especially if they’re having a hard time with something. But focusing on strengths can help give them confidence.
Point out strengths to your child, saying things like, “You remember details really well. That will come in handy when you write that book report.” Encourage your child to think about other strengths that can be used as tools for studying.
4. Work with your child’s challenges.
It’s also important for kids to recognize what’s hard for them. Understanding their challenges can help them find ways to adapt during study time.
Help your child brainstorm solutions. For example, if your child has a hard time sitting still for an extended period, suggest planning for extra time in order to take frequent breaks.
Another type of planning has to do with study time. For example, kids who will need help studying for a math test can plan to do homework at a time when they know a family member can help.
5. Start making checklists with your child.
Once kids have identified strengths and challenges, they can start keeping track of things they need to do. Making lists lets them monitor their work without relying on others.
Breaking things down by subject area can help, too. For example, your child’s writing checklist might have a reminder to review sight words. Your child’s math checklist might include a reminder to use addition to check the answers to subtraction problems.
6. Help your child prioritize.
Learning how to prioritize is an essential skill for studying. Keeping an eye on due dates is helpful, but it might not be the only way for your child to prioritize homework.
Some kids prefer to start with easier work before moving on to the harder stuff. Others prefer to tackle the tough things first. Watch your child to see which option seems to make the most sense, so you can talk about it.
7. Teach your child specific study skills.
It can be easy to overlook the fact that kids don’t just know how to study. Kids need to know how to organize their backpack or break assignments down into smaller steps. Sharpening these skills will also help them learn basic organization skills and note-taking strategies.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.