Helping Your Children Develop Good Study Habits


Consistency is the key to this entire program. Indeed, there is no such thing as the perfect study skills method, except that the best method is one that is consistently applied. This means studying at consistent times, in a consistent place, with a consistent set of skills.

Getting Organized                   

Organization is not just a way of keeping things in place, but the logical extension of the way your child studies. When you meet a student who fumbles for his or her papers in an overstuffed, unorganized book bag, he or she is usually a poor student. The sloppy manner in which the student keeps track of his or her notes seems to reflect the sloppy manner in which he or she organizes thoughts (although there are many exceptions to this rule, Albert Einstein being one of them).  The best students are organized all the way down to the way they carry their materials. While your child may certainly be another Einstein, let's go from the rationale that organization and neatness never hurt anybody .


Your kids probably think homework is a form of punishment, but it's actual purpose is to reinforce material they have learned in class, which is particularly important in math, science, English and social science. Indeed, while children learn a great deal in the classroom, they reinforce what they have learned by practicing it through homework. The idea behind homework is quite simple: "If you do something long enough, with as much variety as possible, you will begin to learn it." Just as practice makes perfect for sports, it makes perfect for learning.

Parental Help With Homework                      

While you may be tempted to help your child with his or her homework, you are best to let your child work it on his or her own. Later, you can check the work, as well as question any solutions that appear incorrect. Under no circumstances, however, should you work a problem for your child. While this sounds like common sense, it is very tempting, particularly when your child is tired and frustrated. When your child encounters a problem he or she cannot complete, try to get your child to think about the problem. Find a similar problem he or she answered successfully, and ask your child how that problem is similar to the stumper. Then ask, "How is it different?" Keep in mind that homework assignments are grouped around basic skills that have either been previously mastered or explained very recently. Thus, the book itself, or the chapter upon which a worksheet is based, will have some clues as to how to answer or solve the problem. Your child needs to refer back and look for the similarities and differences in order to apply the skills. In that way, your child is not just learning a formula, but ,indeed, learning to think. 

Reading Comprehension

First, you must understand that there is a difference between text books and general reading material. Text books are those designed for specific subjects and courses, and include a broad range of subject information arranged around examples, vocabulary, concepts, terms, and homework assignments. General reading books are those fiction and non-fiction books that look at a story or specific subject in detail. Textbooks have very strict guidelines they follow in format and tone, while general reading books are limitless in the way they are written and stylized.  Textbooks are incredibly boring. They are boring by design.  Textbooks are about great information, not great writing. Thus, if your child feels strange because he or she is bored by the text, you can set your child's mind at ease by explaining that most children are bored by such books.

Children approach textbooks like a fight -- they lead with their chin and go in punching, tiring themselves from frustration. Some kids can approach a text like this and come away with a pretty good understanding, but many kids can't. They need a strategy to get the most out of a book, and that is where mapping comes in.  Ask your child to think of a text book not so much as an end-to-end string of words, but as a series of places within a large storehouse of information. Rather than simply read the text, your child should begin by becoming familiar with it, one chapter -- or one section, depending on the assignment.

Rewards and Incentives

There are many ways to reward your child's academic successes. While many parents structure this around financial incentives, such rewards are better suited for chores and allowances as opposed to grades. While academic success certainly can lead to greater financial rewards as your child becomes an adult, that is not -- nor should it be -- the reason your child learns.

Education is not really about jobs -- it is a way of life. There are a great deal of positive benefits from an education that have little to do with money. First, there is the satisfaction of accomplishment. Second is the mastery of knowledge that leads to better citizenship. Perhaps most important is that education tends to be handed down, from serious parents to high-achieving student.

Therefore, rewards for learning should be intrinsic in nature. For example, you should take an active interest in your child's academic success, praising the good grades received. If your child's grades are not exactly as you hoped, yet your child is making a sincere effort and doing the work, you should shower your child with encouragement for the effort, inspiring him or her to achieve.

 In Conclusion

You must...understand that children learn via a variety of different styles. Some learn best through what they hear, others learn best from what they can picture, and others learn using a combination of styles. The point is, don't try and change your child's natural style of learning; rather, have them use these techniques in the manner that suits them best. The main thing to do is to get your child studying on a consistent basis.