Helping your teen develop good study habits

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Black-woman Doing-school-homework

GOOD study habits don’t always come easily or naturally. Most teens need to be taught how to develop them. Learning effective study strategies can reduce your child’s stress about school and improve his/her grades.

And it may even help both of you to avoid battles over his/her homework. Here are two useful strategies to share with your child, based on suggestions in Academic Success Strategies for Adolescents with Learning Disabilities and ADHD (2003 Brookes Publishing Co).

Over “C” tests and assignments
Studying isn’t just a matter of sitting down to review notes. It also involves knowing what you need to study, when and keeping track of assignments and tests.

Some school teachers will list daily assignments and due dates, as well as grades. Your child can use this to plan his/her studying, using the following steps.

Create a calendar. Show your child how to use a large wall calendar and a set of markers to keep track of all the assignments. He/she can assign each subject a different coloured marker and write all of his assignments, activities and appointments on the calendar. Or he/she can use an online calendar — and sync it with multiple devices, including his/her smartphone and laptop.

Create a weekly planner.
Your child can break down information on the calendar to make a study plan for each week. Show him how to transfer his/her obligations for each week from the big calendar to a weekly planner, making sure he/she includes time to work on each assignment a few days before it’s due. Or have him/her print out a weekly list from an online calendar.

Create a daily checklist.
It may seem like overkill, but breaking down the weekly plan into a daily checklist can also be very helpful. This to-do list helps your child keep track of his/her day and see how much progress made. It’s a good idea for him/her to list each day’s tasks in the order he/she should do them and to write down the specific time of each class or appointment.

“Check” in to studying
Once your teen has a handle on what to study, the next step is learning how to study. This can be broken into a check list — with each letter in “check” standing for a step in the process of getting ready.

Consider location. Does your teen study better at school, the library or at home? Some teens work better away from distractions, while others like to have someone nearby in case they need help. Whatever your child chooses, when it’s homework time, that’s the environment he should study in.

Have all materials on hand. It can be very distracting to have to look for a pencil or a calculator in the middle of studying. Help your child find a place where he can store all his homework materials so they’re ready to go before he starts working.

Establish rewards. At first, you may need to help your child set up a reward system. For example, for every chapter read, you might let him/her use the computer for 10 minutes. Eventually, though, he/she’ll learn to reward himself/herself, even if it’s just by eating a snack between English and maths homework.

Create a study checklist. This includes all the steps your teen needs to take to get ready to do homework and what he/she needs to study that day. Having everything listed out can make it easier for your teen to get started and prioritise time. It may also make homework load seem less overwhelming.

Keep a worry pad. A worry pad is a tool for teens who are easily distracted by their own thoughts. Instead of trying to deal with all the distracting things that keep popping into his head, your child can write them down on the pad. When the child is done studying, then they can deal with the things that distracted them. Good study habits take time to develop. Having some strategies and using homework planners and time management sheets are a good start. If your child continues to struggle, though, you may want to consider a tutor.— understood.org