With the school year starting, how can I help my son be a better student and study more efficiently?
I recently asked a group of high school freshman how they study. The answers were insightfully intelligent as well as interestingly unique. One student commented that he studies the big points because the little stuff doesn’t matter, another commented he just stares at his book for 15 minute before taking a break, and one looks for the “bold” words to learn and memorize.
These ideas are creative solutions, but they are also ineffective methods to cultivate student skills. Traditional values related to scheduling and environment are the best methods to deal with the emerging demands of a high school career. Students should develop their own study style while adhering to “old school” principles.
Time management is the first step. Consider that most teens spend at least 35 hours a week in classes, have extracurricular activities, and engage in life activities such as doctor appointments, social activities and house hold chores. Balancing homework hours with other needs is a crucial concept to school success. If your son doesn’t have a plan, then he won’t have the time he needs. Teens should track both daily assignments and long term projects using a planner to schedule due dates and outside activities.
When a student studies is important to knowledge retention. Some need to complete homework before relaxing and others prefer an afterschool break. Once comfortably engaged in academic pursuits, teens should prioritize the importance of work starting with the most difficult tasks and working upward to the most familiar material. Learning occurs best when the body and brain are rested and alert.
The proper ambiance will keep your son on task. Comfortable couches create an environment that is too relaxed and not conducive to focused work. Studying should take place at a large desk in a well lit room. The study area should be stocked with pens, pencils, paper and other essential aids. Provide nearby access to healthy snacks and water helping your son avoid the distractible desire to take a trip to another part of the house.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to monitor your son’s progress. The occasional walk-by in a passive, non confrontational manner will ensure your teen stays on task. Knowing mom is just around the corner will assist with any impulsive urge to stare into space or engage with technological diversions.
Have a conversation with you teen about what works best and potential problem areas. Learning to study is an evolutionary process that needs adjustment along the way. Celebrate successes and learn from mistakes.