“Study hard, get good grades!”
Does this sound familiar?
I remember being told this a lot as a kid.
It sounds like good advice, but kids need guidance and instruction for many of the tasks we adults take for granted.
Try to think back to your experiences as a child.
I can remember the day that I “got” tying my shoes. Not the first time I did it, but the actual day where tying my shoes clicked and something in my head went “of course!”
From that day forward, when it came to tying my shoes, I had the feeling of “Yeah, I got this.”
Many times we’ll tell kids to do something… but they have no idea how to do it.
Personally, I prefer the NLP approach. NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
At it’s core, it’s based on the idea that the success of highly accomplished people can be repeated if certain tasks can be broken down into small enough steps.
In this article, I’ll outline seven simple ways to help elementary school age kids improve their study habits.
While some may seem obvious, remember a child may be learning “how to study” for the very first time…just like tying their shoes!
Study Tip #1: Eliminate Distractions
Let me bust a myth: multi-tasking is not an efficient use of time.
So many people claim they can get so much more done by multi-tasking but what they are really doing is dividing their attention.
When you try to multi-task, you’re taking attention away from each task. The result? You wind up doing worse on everything.
What does this mean for kids? Simple.
No distractions! No TV playing in the background, no video game controllers near by just begging to be played with.
Interestingly, there are studies going on now which show that some kids (and adults) can and do function better with music playing.
If that applies to your child, consider investing in a good pair of earbuds.
This will save you the pain of listening to your child’s music all the time and the earbuds can be used to block out other potential distractions at home such as siblings, pets, etc.
Study Tip #2: Designate a Study Area
See if this sounds familiar. You’re taking a test and get hung up on a certain question or problem. Then you finish the test and turn it in and walk out of the testing area.
What happens? The answer suddenly leaps back into your head.
Yeah, me too.
Encourage your child to have a specific study area. This will begin to make studying a habit. Kids need structure not only in terms of schedules (more on that in a moment) but also space.
Our minds begin to associate certain stimuli with specific patterns of thought, feelings, and more.
In NLP we talk about anchoring – how a sight, sound, or feeling triggers a response. Think of Pavlov’s dogs, a classic example of anchoring in science. What happened?
Pavlov eventually discovered that the dogs would associate a ringing bell with the anticipated food…and the dogs would drool when they heard the bell, even though there was no food.
By having a specific study area, your child will begin to associate that area of the house with studying. This will help them get into “study mode” much easier and faster for them.
Study Tip #3: Limit Cell Phone Use
Oh, how our lives are dominated with these small electronic beasts! On days when I’m able to break its wicked spell over me, I’d like to throw it off a bridge.
To help your child’s study habits improve, limit cell phone use during study times. They should only use their phone to check with a fellow student about homework details, deadlines, etc.
They should ONLY use their phone to get answers like that they couldn’t get any other way.
Study Tip #4: Make it Consistent
As I mentioned earlier, kids (and really, adults) thrive when life conditions are consistent.
Our minds enjoy predictability and feel more secure when they know what’s coming. \
While we do obviously need stimulation, when it comes to mundane daily tasks, consistency will get much better results.
Try to make dinner times in your home at the same time each night an. Anything else in your homelife that can be regulated will also benefit your child’s study habits.
If they learn that study time is at a specific time each evening, they’ll have an easier time making studying not only a habit but an effective one.
Study Tip #5: Prioritize
Help your child learn to prioritize by learning what their deadlines are and what to plan for in terms of those deadlines.
Your child might enjoy a certain subject or anticipate a given project that is not due for weeks simply because they will enjoy it more. That means they might put off an assignment they don’t enjoy until the last minute.
Consider sitting down with your child and telling them a few of your stories of waiting until the last minute to complete a homework assignment (You have some stories from your school days, right? Of course you do!).
Relating your experiences to your child can serve as a great teaching tool.
Not only will your “true life” experience have a better chance at clicking with your child, but just the act of telling a story serves to captivate a person – nearly any person – more than just the bare facts.
Paying attention to stories is something humans are hardwired to do. Take advantage of it.
Study Tip #6: Have Scheduled Breaks
There’s reason why classes in school are timed out to be 45 minutes to an hour long. People can’t concentrate on one task for hours at a time on a regular basis.
Even in college, where two or three-hour classes are common, a good teacher knows to have scheduled breaks throughout the class.
A teen’s attention span is effective for 60 minutes or so, but a first grader’s is only effective for about 15 minutes.
Encourage study breaks but keep them short. Teaching your child to use study breaks can easily backfire as scheduled breaks can turn into hour long video game distractions or more.
Study Tip #7: Take notes in Your Own Words
Encourage your child to take notes on the material they are studying.
Many children (and let’s be honest, many adults too) don’t know how to effectively take notes.
They may try to write down every word an instructor is saying. If a teacher just prattles on and on without pausing, your child may end up feeling stressed out trying to keep up.
Sit down with your child and teach some basic note taking techniques. Also, encourage your child to summarize what they are reading by writing it in their own words.
This will help them understand the material and it will help with recall – when you are writing rather than just passively reading, retention rates skyrocket.
So, there you have it – some simple tips to helping your child improve their study habits.
What If There Was an Even Easier Way?
What if there was a way to teach your child how to remember information (anything at all!) even faster?
What if this method was also super fun so your child would enjoy it?
Ask me for information about my fun and interactive “Memory Madness” show for students.
This show teaches some incredibly fun ways to increase retention in a much shorter amount of time. I even have a virtual version available!