Teaching children to manage their study
Academic success is very important to many parents. Frustratingly for many parents, their children often do not see academic success as important at all! This presents a significant challenge for mums and dads who want their children to do well at school in order to have a larger number of good quality career options following school.
The following tips can be useful in helping your children to become independent students who know how to manage their own time and studies effectively:
1. Make age-appropriate requests
Studying is hard work. Young children will typically have less ability (and less need) to study, whereas older children will have both greater need to study, and greater ability to do so. Don’t have too high an expectation on children under around Grade 9 to do significant amounts of study. A great deal of research indicates that high workloads and monotonous study can actually lead to poorer performance and motivation at school, particularly before the age of 15. After age 15, around two hours per night seems to be about right.
2. Force creates resistance, so allow autonomy
Children respond to requests best when they are give the opportunity to make their own choices. If you try to force them to study, they will likely resist. Imagine if your supervisor at work demanded that you to “go into the office and stay there until your work’s done!”
Most adults would find this inappropriate. Yet many parents feel compelled to make these kinds of demands of their children. And like adults, they resist being told what to do.
Instead, it can be useful to ask, “What were you planning on studying today?” or “What can I do to help you with your studies?”
Some gentle reminders may also be helpful, such as “Your exams are only 2 weeks away. How do you plan to prepare?”
3. Encourage routine
When children have a consistent routine that includes study, there is less need to continually harp on about it. Sixteen year-old Alissa knew that every afternoon when she arrived home she had three things to complete before she could have ‘her’ time. She had to practice her musical instrument for 30 minutes, study, and prepare the table for dinner. The rest of the afternoon was hers. This routine meant that there were few family arguments about priorities.
Nine year-old Jacob had an afternoon schedule that consisted of afternoon tea, unpacking his school bag, reading for a short time to his mum, and then working on projects for 30 minutes. Then he played with his friends.
4. Minimise distractions
Let your children know that television, Internet, friends, the phone, the DS, x-box, swimming pool, bikes, and any other distractions will be available to them AFTER they have completed the appropriate studies.
5. Follow up
Parents should be involved in their children’s studies. Ask what your child has done, and review it. For projects, avoid criticisms but ask their permission to make suggestions. Better still, ask what your child thinks of his or her work. For exam study it can be particularly useful to help your child study by asking him or her to write out several questions and answers. Then you can test him or her. The quizzing can become a fun game, and also allow you to be involved in the learning process.
6. Manage your own time well
One of the most powerful ways for your child to learn good study habits is to see you using your time well. By developing yourself as a person (rather than staring at the television), your child will recognise that you value learning and study, and your modelling of what is important will influence your child’s study choices.
Find more homework articles:
- The hands-off homework strategy for parents
- Homework tips for parents
- Teach your child to manage their own study
- Understanding learning styles
- Preparing your child for success at school
- Decoding the homework debate
- Tips to make homework happen
- Improving school success
- 5 ways to keep school kids organised
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This article was written for Kidspot by Justin Coulson, Ph. D. Justin is a relationships and parenting expert, author and father of five children. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at happyfamilies.com.au.