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Studying the Studiers

There are times to take a breather from the digital world and study the old fashioned way.

Published: November, 2005

In a world where it’s only 8 minutes until the next TV commercial, video games hone lightening fast reflexes, and even the food is fast it’s hard for kids to buckle down and study. Studying is slow work, and often comes at the end of their long, jam-full days. The procrastinators, the fidgeters, the snackers, the mutli-taskers …they are all variations on the I-can’t- settle- down -to -study theme.

Parents can’t study for their kids but they can lend a studied hand:

1. Make a space.
Some swear that they study best at the kitchen table; some say they study in bed, but it’s not advised. Try to create a place with minimal distractions and use it only for studying. A good study area should have good lighting and ventilation, a comfortable chair and a space large enough to spread out their materials. If they are prone to daydreaming or dawdling you may want to peek in every now and then.

2. Chart a course.
Help them create a chart of all of the subjects they are taking and all the deadlines they need to meet. Include exams, papers, and projects. If their teachers don’t do it, then work backwards from the due date, helping them set milestones to meet (first drafts of your papers, a week or two for studying for an exam). Reevaluate your chart frequently in case things should change. (Wall charts work better than calendars kept on computers because you can see your entire workload at a glance.)

3. Channel Misspent Energy.
Some students fret so much about the work they have they actually never get around to doing it. If your child is constantly feeling overwhelmed they may need to carve out a bit more study and homework time or learn to work more efficiently. Have them keep a list of everything they do for a day or two and review it to see where they can be more efficient. They should list extra curricular activities, doctors appointments, phone calls with friends and time spent on the computer.

4. Study how to study.
Look into time management course and study skills courses that may be offered by your child’s school or an after school class or tutor. A few sessions learning study techniques can be well worth it.

5. Look for found study time.
Doctor’s appointment waiting room? Got half an hour before ballet class? A quick review or a few pages of reading can make good use of the wait and ease the homework load later.

6. Plan for breaks.
No one can go to school all day, have activities after school and then study non-stop. Even if they get 2 -3 hours of homework an evening, they’ll be more effective if they work in 45-60 minute stretches with break in between.

7. Take Note:
They say that half of succeeding in school is showing up alert. If they take good notes in class and then use highlighters or notecards to reinforce what they’ve noted, they’ll be in good shape. One technique is to leave ample room in the margins as you take notes so that you can reread your notes and jot down key phrases and terms during review.