By Amanda Morin
Good study habits don’t come naturally to grade-schoolers. But as your child starts getting more homework, she’ll need to learn them. Here are tips for helping your child develop the best study habits for her.
Kids with learning and attention issues can be easily distracted while they’re trying to study. 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.
Help your child learn to survey her study area to identify things that might get in the way of studying. Then she can work to lessen those distractions. She might wear headphones, for instance, or find a quieter place to study.
It would be great if your child could always study in a cozy room with perfect lighting and nothing to distract her. In the real world, that’s not always possible. But she can learn to make her study space more productive.
Show your child how to position her work space away from visual and auditory distractions. You can also help her create a portable homework station to keep all of her study materials on hand.
If schoolwork is hard for your child, it may also be hard for her to recognize the strengths that can help her be successful.
Point some of them out to her, saying things like, “You remember details really well. That will come in handy when writing that book report.” Encourage her to think about other strengths that can be used to her benefit when doing homework.
It’s just as important for your child to recognize her weaknesses as her strengths. Understanding her challenges can help her find ways to adapt during study time.
Help her brainstorm solutions. For example, if she has a hard time sitting still for an extended period, she can plan extra time in order to take frequent breaks. Or if she knows she’ll need your help studying for a math test, she can plan to do homework at a time she knows you’ll be available.
Once your child has identified strengths and weaknesses, she can start keeping track of what she needs to keep track of. Making lists lets her monitor her work without relying on others.
Breaking things down by subject area can help. For example, her writing homework checklist might remind her to double-check the spelling of sight words. Her math homework checklist might remind her to use addition to check the answers to her subtraction problems.
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 work for her, so you can help her make that decision.
It can be easy to overlook the fact that kids don’t just know how to study. Don’t forget to teach your child how to organize her backpack or break down assignments into smaller steps. It will also help her to learn basic organization skills and note-taking strategies.
Studying in middle school is more complicated for all kids, with different teachers scheduling tests at different times. Plus, the material is harder. These tips can help you make the process less challenging for your child with dyslexia.
You may notice your teen rushing through homework in high school, a time when social and academic demands go way up. Kids with executive functioning issues and ADHD are especially likely to move too fast on their work. Try these strategies to help your child slow down on assignments.
Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.
Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.
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