Establishing good skills and habits around studying will allow your child to reach their full potential in academics as well as prepare them for later in life when they are called upon to demonstrate their knowledge, share knowledge or simply deliver a presentation. Studying is a learned skill. Your child needs to develop effective study skills and habits. As with other skills your child will learn, your child needs to develop foundational study skills and evolve these skills and techniques as they progress in their academics. The key is to start building the necessary skills and habits early, be dedicated to practicing these techniques and committed to adapting as they progress in their academics.
Here are some skills and habits your child can practice to improve the effectiveness of their studying. It's important that you and your child approach studying with patience, practice and experimentation.
1. Setting The Mood
Exercise Before You Study
Your brain power is booster after physical movement. Your exercise does not need to be vigorous. Completing 10 or 20 jumping jacks is sufficient. The goal is to get your blood flowing.
Listen To Music
This is a personal preference. Music can be distracting to some but stimulating to others. Studies show Classical music gets your neurons firing. Other music can also warm up your brain. One option may be to listen to music before you start studying. Its like stretching for the brain.
Snack On Smart Food
Eating the right foods can sustain your focus and eating the wrong foods can decrease your focus. Snacks such as edamame, apples and nuts will fuel your brain. Sugary and fatty foods like chocolate bars and chips provide a temporary boost but have a dramatic downturn effect, reducing energy and focus to levels below where they were before you consumed the sugary or fatty snacks.
2. Maintaining Your Focus
Study after study has concluded that focusing your mind on a single task is the most effective and efficient way to perform and work. Remove all distractions such as social media, other work, etc. Commit to your studying.
Stress and frustration hinders learning. Take study breaks that include exercise or mediation. Mediation can be as simple as focusing on a fidget toy - focus on the texture and movement of the toy.
Review Materials before Bed
Your brain can learn while you sleep so take advantage of it! You should not attempt to memorize or do any studying that is overly involved just before you go to bed. Before you go to bed, simply read over your materials such as study notes or key concepts. Do not do this while laying in your bed as you need to establish your bed as a place for sleeping. Studies indicate that the brain will peacefully process the information you read before sleeping. You may be a bit skeptical but it can't hurt.
Change Your Scenery
If your in a rut, simply changing your environment can help shift your mind set. Move to a new room, location (i.e. library) or even try studying outside. The change in scenery can give you a metal boost.
3. Take A Systematic Approach
Studying should be seen as a continues process. Studying should not be limited to the night before an examination. Research has proven that students often struggle to recall information after cramming, as well as lack a deeper understanding of the information and concepts. Cramming undermines the learning process. This is very detrimental when learning foundational concepts that you will be required to build on as you progress in your academics.
Create A Study Schedule
If you build in time to continually review your notes and concepts, you will be less stressed, be better prepared for examinations and develop a deeper understanding of the learning. Here is a quick example:
Day 1: Learn the material in class
Day 2: Revisit and review
Day 3: Revisit and review
After 1 Week: Revisit and review
After 2 Weeks: Revisit and review
Track and Rank
Make sure you focus on the concepts or information that cause you the most difficulty or stress. Keep notes on the items that need more attention. If you prioritize these items and review them multiple times in advance, the items that cause your the most difficulty, will become the items that your are most comfortable applying. Your list will change as your knock off the difficult concepts. The key is to tackle the tougher items many weeks in advance of an examination. We tend review items that we are most comfortable with learning. You need to move out of your comfort zone.
Create Study Notes
One approach to creating study notes is the "survey" approach. This technique takes a sequential approach:
Skim your text book and/or notes first
Take note of headings, images and other standout items
Read and look for answers to your questions
Draft your study notes based on your questions and answers
Should you create your study notes digitally or use paper? Studies do show that you require more repetition when learning new material when reviewing it on a computer screen. However, how you should create your notes in a manner that best aligns to your preferences.
Developing a personal study strategy takes time. Your child will perfect his or her study skills through trail and error. Support them and encourage them to work on developing this essential skill.