You want your kids to succeed this school year, and you’ll do anything to reduce the stress last-minute projects and cram sessions place on your whole family. How do you change your student’s attitude toward homework and study?
We’ve got some ideas that will improve your kids’ study habits, give them better time management skills and even make homework fun again.
Early establishment of time management skills carries over to reduced stress and anxiety in adulthood. Teach your student to keep a calendar for upcoming projects, and help him learn to break down large, daunting assignments into bite-sized tasks.
Look into family calendar apps to keep yourself informed of your kids’ school projects, or use a wall calendar. Does your child’s school or class have a web-based calendar? Many do, as a way to keep parents and students updated on projects, field trips, and events. Stay informed to avoid “surprise” due dates and “lost” field trip permission slips.
Whether your child uses software-based project management tools or a simple assignment notebook, checklists have the added bonus of rewarding your student when she can physically “sign off” on a completed task. As your student gets the hang of time management, you’ll spend less time putting together science projects and proofreading term papers the night before they’re due.
Choose the right study spot
Some students prefer to study in solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of the household. Others do better on the fringes of activity, where they can ask for help when needed. When you’re setting up a study area for your student, talk to her about her preferences, and take into consideration whether or not your child requires help staying on task.
Avoid neck and back strain in your students. Look into ergonomic chairs that encourage good posture while studying, reading books and electronic devices.
Even if your child uses different areas of the house for projects and reading, set up a well-lit, permanent, dedicated study area with pens, highlighters, internet access, and chargers for laptops and tablets. Encourage your student to spend a few minutes cleaning up the study area each day to avoid pileups of clutter.
If possible, keep study areas and sleeping areas separate. Bedrooms should be thought of as a sanctuary, set apart from stressful activities.
Let the music play
Did you know that upbeat instrumental music, like jazz, classical and “house” music, can help students better retain information? Listening to music helps forge stronger memories when the melodies elicit positive emotions. Earbuds and music help reduce environmental distractions, as well.
Let them get up, stretch and walk around while they’re working through a problem. Intersperse study sessions with chores, a few minutes of unstructured free time or exercise that gets the blood flowing and gives the gray matter a chance to take a breather. When your student returns to the books, she’ll be able to tackle her studies with a fresh approach, and a problem that flummoxed her before might suddenly seem like no problem at all.
Stock healthy snacks that fuel the brain. Berries, nuts, dark chocolate, avocados and oily fish all contain nutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants that help improve memory retention and cognitive function. Ask your kids to add their favorite brain fuel to the shopping list, and help you prepare pre-made snack mixes.
Ensure a good night’s sleep
Did you know that adolescents need 9-10 hours of sleep? Sleep deficiencies negatively impact concentration, memory retention, mood and even aggression. Your child’s sleeping habits are as important as his study habits, so make sure he has the right environment and supplies: clean bedding, the right pillow, privacy, and quiet.
Tame the cranky out of the kid by designing a household routine that “mellows out” an hour or two before bedtime. Dim the lights and limit television and computer games during this time. If your student’s study load infringes on quiet time, structure study sessions so he can finish more complex activities earlier, leaving light reading, note reviews, and simple projects for last.
Avoid caffeine and high-sugar food and beverages after 4pm, and do your best to keep a consistent bedtime. Your child will get the more brainpower for the buck if she goes to bed early, and reviews her notes in the morning before classes than she would if she stayed up late “cramming” for an exam.
Show your work
Make notes of your kids’ progress, factoring in academic achievement, mood, and stress levels, and talk with them about how they feel about their study routine. Help them recognize how time management and self-discipline reduces stress and anxiety.
Make adjustments to your kids’ study routine as necessary, even if it means cutting back on extracurricular activities or talking with teachers about adjusting after-school assignments.
Healthy, happy kids live a balanced life with rich social, academic and family activities. Rest, nutrition, and self-discipline are an essential part of achieving balance in your student’s life, and peace on the home front.