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Study Skills

Few things affect a student’s performance as much as the development of productive study skills.  Study skills encourage areas such as work attitudes, time management, homework strategies and test-taking skills.  Many study skills are taught in the classroom, but others can only be addressed at home.  It’s never too early or too late to begin working with your child to build strong study habits and attitudes.  It is important to focus your attention on training your child to be an independent worker at every grade level.  Each year students build on the work habits and attitudes they have formed in previous years.  Unproductive work patterns in lower elementary grades provide a poor foundation for upper elementary.  Without intervention and training, the result is a high school student who is unprepared to handle grade-level tasks and concepts.

 The following is a list of ideas to help you develop effective study skills in your child:

  • Evaluate your child’s current study habits and work attitudes.  Identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. Then look at each weakness, individually, to determine an effective work strategy for that specific problem.  For example, if your child works independently on homework assignments but does not bring home all the materials needed to complete the work, you must focus your attention on routines which will insure that he will bring home needed materials.

  • Set a standard of excellence for your child.  Learn your child’s strengths, weaknesses and potential and expect your child to work to that potential regularly.  If you consistently review your child’s work, you will be able to identify the first warning signs of unproductive work habits.  This will give you the opportunity to address inappropriate work strategies and attitudes before they take root.

  • “Do whatever it takes to get the job done.”  This is the motto you should be teaching your children regarding their work.  Some students are very organized; others are not.  Some students are independent workers; others are not. Therefore, the exact same study strategies do not work for every student.  Some students need to use a day timer in high school to remember assignments; others do not.  Some students need to practice their spelling words every night, while this is unnecessary for others.  Productivity is the key.  Train your child to do anything needed to get the job done correctly.

  • Check out the study environment in your home.  Most students work efficiently and effectively in a quiet environment which is free of visual and noise distractions.   Create a study environment in which your child can complete homework accurately, within a reasonable period of time.

  • With regard to homework, try to establish a routine.  Decide on the time and place in which your child will work.  When choosing the time for homework, think about your child’s body clock. Some students cannot concentrate in the evening.  Their homework time has to be accomplished in the afternoon.

  • Keep in mind your child’s learning style when helping them develop strategies.  Many students need visual clues to remember and understand concepts, while others learn best by hearing and talking about concepts.  Help your child discover the methods that work best for him.

  • If your child does well when reviewing for a test at home but then performs poorly on the test, vary some of your practice to include the same methods used during the test. (For example, if spelling words have to be written for the test, some of the practice at home should include writing words.)

  • Keep in mind that homework time should include the completion of assignments, on-going preparation for tests and the development of weak skills which interfere with your child’s productivity.  Lower elementary students need to read orally to someone in addition to their teachers every day to develop the strong independent reading skills necessary to be productive in upper elementary, middle school and high school.  Older students need to develop the habit of reviewing material regularly, rather than procrastinating until the night before the test.  Students with weaknesses in reading, math and other core subjects must be involved in remedial practice if they hope to fill in the gaps and perform adequately on grade level.

  These are just a few general ideas for establishing productive study skills in the home.  For additional suggestions on more specific ideas for working with your child, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or the school’s counselor.

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Last modified: May 17, 2004