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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
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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