6 Must-Have Skills for Successful Studying
Successful students take time to step back from their studies and examine what they are doing and how they are doing it. They may not spend any more time or effort on study and assignments than do their less successful peers, but their strategies help them make better use of their time and energy.
Teach them to plan, allowing ample time to finish a project by breaking it into small steps. Organization is another cornerstone for successful study, whether it's keeping track of research materials or taking library books back on time. Sometimes children fall behind in school and fail to hand in assignments because they simply don't know where to begin. Prioritizing tasks is a skill for life. Motivation is like the 'X' factor for your child to succeed academically. Tapping into their interests is a great way to get her/him geared-up to do well in school. Active learning is essentially about your child interacting with what they are studying. Reflective learning is something to practice at any stage and is a way of being rather than something to ‘do’.
Planning: suggestions below are for planning ahead to manage homework, exams and projects.
- Writing down every task in a to-do list or agenda booklet with the due date
- For long-term projects, setting due dates for certain stages of the projects before (as milestones)
- Starting to study for tests and pacing this revision by dividing up the studying into units, to maximize retention of the material
- Finding classmates to study with
Organization requires consistency:
- Establish a daily routine.
- Structure after-school activities to allow for homework at a set time every day.
- Stick to the routine so your child will know what is expected.
- Stay organized and keep homework area free from clutter, noise and distractions, such as television, games and radio.
- Ask your child to make a checklist of things they need to take to and from school every day, (help them with this list, only, if they need some help or reassurance).
- Ask your child where is a useful place to keep a copy (e.g. at home).
- Check with your child to see if this tool is helping him/her to remember the items on the list.
- If not, re-evaluate and tweak which bits are working and what needs to change
Prioritisation - it's never too soon to learn.
Tips to help your child prioritize:
- Ask your child to write down all the things he needs to do, including non-school-related activities.
- Ask him to label each task from 1 to 3, with 1 being most important, (discuss each task, so that you understand your child's priorities). If he labels all her/his social activities as 1, then you know where their attention is focused.
- Help your child change some of the labels to better prioritize for academic success, (explaining your reasoning to help her/him understand).
- Suggest your child rewrite the list so all the 1s are at the top.
- Check-in frequently to see how the list is evolving and how your child is prioritizing new tasks.
Motivational Tips to help your child:
- Congratulate your child, encourage and celebrate all her/his efforts and successes.
- Give your child control and choices. With your guidance, let her/him determine their study hours, organizing system or school project topics.
- Encourage your child to share their expertise. Regularly ask about what s/he's learning in school.
- Link your child's interests to academics. If s/he's passionate about music, when reading together help your child notice the rhythm or sounds in the story or make up little tunes to science acronyms, math formulas and multiplication tables.
- Link school lessons to your child's life. If s/he's learning percentages, ask about the price of a discounted item next time you are shopping with them.
- It helps if parent/ sibling is sitting too, doing their homework or busy work at the same time (role-modelling), to show that s/he is not the only one who has to do something . In this way they see/learn work ethic (habit), by your example.
Active learners find ways to interact with what they are studying. This helps to maintain their enthusiasm for their studies, and gain confidence in their ability to cope with new challenges.Try some of the strategies below:
- highlighting material useful for the next assignment
- working out the links between current material and previous sections to help build your knowledge and understanding
- re-reading previous material that relates to a difficult new topic
- relating the learning outcomes to each section you study
- drawing flow diagrams to show a process or a sequence of events
- continually asking yourself questions about the material you are studying
- taking notes to make the topic meaningful to you.
"An experience that is repeated without reflection is just a repetition, which does not help you to learn."
Reflection has an important role to play in learning and self-development. Reflection could be described as
- thinking with a purpose
- being critical, but not negative
- analysing how effective your learning is
- questioning and probing
- making judgements and drawing conclusions