Whether your child is just starting the new school year and you want them to get off to a good start, or they’re in the middle of the semester and you realize they need help, there are ways to help them develop good study skills. But where do you start? We have some tips from the experts at Mathnasium to help.
Practice Good Time Management
If your kids are not managing their time well, they might not know how to fit studying into their schedule. They might wind up cramming for a test instead of feeling confident and prepared on test day. Better time management for students starts with knowing exactly how they’re using their time so they can schedule in time to study.
With all the technology available today, it seems like time management should be easy, but there are ways to improve this study skill. It might take some trial and error to find the methods that work best for you and your child. It will probably work best if you can get them to sit down with you and for older students to have their mobile phone handy so they can put items on their calendar and set up reminders for study sessions.
Start by looking at their weekly schedule. What classes do they have on what days? What other activities take place during the week like athletic practice sessions, music practice, and so on. Be sure to include some free time for visiting with friends and socializing, even if those events aren’t scheduled.
Most importantly, for learning better study skills, include blocks of time for studying each subject. It’s likely that some subjects will need more time than others, depending on your child’s aptitude and interest in those subjects. It might take a couple of weeks to nail down a good study schedule, so go easy on yourself at the start.
The tutors at Mathnasium are experts at helping K-12 students develop good study habits that can improve math scores and help them in other subjects as well.
Sleep and Exercise Can Improve Study Skills
It might seem odd to consider sleep and exercise good study skills, but kids — especially teenagers — need plenty of sleep to do their best. A well-rested brain works better than a sleep-deprived brain. That’s why those all-night cramming sessions don’t work out so well.
Exercise releases brain hormones that improve mood and subsequently can improve retention. It is also a great way to break up study sessions.
Study in 20-30 Minute Chunks
Help your child set up specific times of the day for study sessions. Small chunks of time work well as a study skill for several reasons:
- These small amounts of time spent on each subject takes the information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Essentially, students remember more of what they learned.
- It’s easier to maintain focus for shorter periods of time.
- If a student knows they’ll be studying for short blocks of time, they’ll be less likely to procrastinate and put off studying.
Create a Specific Time and Place to Study
Setting aside a specific time and place for studying helps the brain create a routine – it is basically being trained to learn in that time and place. Try to make that place as conducive to concentration as possible. As a parent, if you’re at home during these study sessions, a common room in the house — without TV or loud music might work well. Then you can oversee your child’s progress and help if needed.
Mute or remove your child’s phone so texts from friends don’t distract them. If external noises are an issue, get them some noise reduction headphones. Set a timer for the study-time chunks. It might be a good idea to start with 20-minute chunks and work up to 30 minutes. Make sure they stand up and stretch or walk around a little between each study session. That’s a great time for a healthy snack.
As much as possible, try to keep study sessions pleasant. Try to do what the experts at Mathnasium do and “…create a learning environment that is fun, dynamic, and empowering. Keeping math fun for kids keeps them engaged.” This works for other subjects too.
Use Specific Study Skills for Each Subject
Different subjects will require different approaches. History and biology require more memorization than mathematics and chemistry which both require lots of practice. If your child needs to memorize information, there are several methods — too many to go into here but an internet search of memorization techniques will provide some great ideas. Here are some ideas to help make the best of their study time:
- Instead of highlighting text in a book, have your child use flashcards. Writing down the concepts or formulas is more effective than highlighting text.
- Have a goal for each study session. Ask them what their goal is and check in later to see if they met that goal.
- Take practice tests.
- Study with another student and take turns retelling things that they learned. This method improves memory.
If your child doesn’t have a study friend, sit down with them after a study session, and ask them what they’re studying and what they’ve learned. Re-telling information reinforces the memory.
According to the experts at Mathnasium, “It’s important that kids understand why and how they’re getting to the right answer.”
Find a Tutor if You Need Help
If you find that your child is struggling, a tutor who is an expert in the subject can help. If your K-12 child needs help with math, check out the Mathnasium center near you for an individualized program.
As Larry Martinek, Co-founder of Mathnasium says, “The objective at Mathnasium is for all Mathnasium students to reach their full potential.” They can create an individualized plan for your student. The success they achieve with math carries over into other subjects as well, giving them overall confidence and improving their study skills.
Story by Julia Osgood