It’s hard to believe that after spring break we’ll be down to less than three months of school. How are your child’s study habits going? Students often start off the year with plans and guidelines around homework, but they don’t always maintain those habits.
Spring is a perfect time for a refresh. How many of us feel spring coming on and are motivated to clean out closets and reorganize drawers? Our kids’ often need that same refresher.
Have you looked in your child’s backpack lately? Is it a black hole of papers and disorganized binders? Has he or she complained about missed assignments or forgotten work and rushed through it the morning it’s due? It’s easy for us as parents to see this as a reflection on us, but it’s really an issue of their executive functioning skills not being quite developed.
Does your child have a system for organizing papers, homework, and projects? Are they using the planner their school distributed at the beginning of the school year? (Are you reading this wondering the last time you saw that said planner?)
Often teachers recommend organizational systems when school starts, but by March kids may have forgotten about them.
I have a number of things I recommend for maintaining good study habits, which you can start to implement little by little, such as the following:
- Goal Setting: Before you get to the hands-on, practical guide to study habits, I recommend goal setting. Asking your child what their goals are is the first step of ownership of this process. Whether it’s, “I want to make the basketball team at school” or “I want to improve my grade on my next math test,” your child can break that goal down into tangible steps (practice dribbling every day, work on my rebounds, practice math facts).
- Binders: Students should have a binder for each subject; with dividers for notes, homework, handouts, tests and quizzes.
- Planner: Make sure your student is writing everything down and prioritizing what needs to get done. This should include schoolwork, after school activities and any other appointments. The key here is to for your child to have ownership over their time and commitments. Not until they can see it all in front of them can they fully manage their time. What I have found useful in our house is having a white board in the kids’ rooms. They can plan out for the week or the day. Blocks of 20 minutes seem to work best. Don’t forget to include breaks. In our house, there is a need for a plethora of breaks.
- Homework: Where is your student doing their homework? Are there distractions? No phones, music, TV, Snapchat. How much time is homework taking? It shouldn’t be more than 2 hours. Breaking homework up into smaller segments, especially if your child gets easily distracted, is a great option. Use a visual timer, break up homework into 20 minute blocks, take a 5 minute break, and repeat until it’s finished.
- Create a weekly check-in: Even with the best intentions, some weeks are harder than others to keep up habits. You know those Fridays where you are just happy to cross the finish line and make it through the carpool line? It’s important to create a built in standard 20 minute sit down (I personally like Sunday afternoons) to go through backpacks, smooth out crumpled up papers and check in and see what’s working and what might need improvements.
Small actionable changes are what lead to long-term results; to get the most out of your spring cleaning, focus on one or two things you can do this week. You can build on these small habits and (hopefully) at least keep those backpacks clean. Just remember, time management skills and organization aren’t learned overnight. Encouragement and patience can help support these good habits.
San Carlos Living Magazine Published this article their March 2019 issue.