Sarah Larkin has the following tips to help your child to develop good study and homework habits.
Helping your child to work out sums and equations, or find meaning from poetry can be challenging, but it demonstrates to your kids that that what they are doing is important. It’s a good idea to pay attention to your child’s rhythms and help him find the right time to begin his work. Some children work best by doing homework right after school; others need a longer break and must run around before tackling the work. Most will need a snack.
If your child does after-school activities, set a homework time before or after the activity, or after dinner. Creating a regular study routine will eventually become natural for your child to know when they have to study and how long to spend on different subjects or topics they may have. Whatever routine you choose, help your child stick to it. Here are some good homework habits you might want to think about.
Diet plays an important part in your child’s brain activity and behaviour. The nutrients they get in their diet can help to improve growth and development of the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids can boost their brains, strengthen their immune systems and lift their mood. It is also claimed that these fatty acids can help to improve behaviour, reduce anxiety and improve language skills. Oil-rich fish like salmon are an excellent source of omega-3 faty acids DHA and EPA.
Research has shown that people who get more of these fatty acids in their diet have sharper minds and do better at mental skills tests. Try giving your child a daily fish oil supplement if they don’t eat oil-rich fish every week. Also, make sure that your child eats breakfast every day, as it is vital for school-age kids. Research has shown that breakfast-eaters do better academically and have fewer behaviour problems than those who skip the all-important first meal of the day.
Technology has a big impact on how children study. Make sure that your child doesn’t become distracted by other non-study related websites or games. TV and any other possible distractions should be switched off or taken out of the room where your child is studying.
Showing your child how to keep organised and on top of everything while they study can make things much easier for them. Get a large calendar, one that allows space for jotting down things in the daily boxes. Take it apart so that you (and your child) can sequentially mount the school months for the current term.
For example, you can tear off September, October, November, December, and January and mount across one wall. Get your child to use a bold colour felt tip pen to mark exam dates in one colour, reports that are coming due in a different colour, etc. This will serve as a reminder so that things aren’t left until the very last minute.
Dictionaries can be handy to keep around the house, in different languages too, if your child is studying a foreign language or needs to look up meanings and spell-checks. Keep them in an accessible place and let your child see you refer to it from time to time.
While it is important to sit with your child and show them how to get to grips with the basics of studying and helping them with any problems they may have, you should also find the time to step away and let them study on their own. They may be reliant on you in the beginning, but over time, they should only need to call you when they have a problem or for any specific need.
From the moment your child is told of an upcoming test in school, the preparation should begin a week or few days before the day of the test. This will help your child to know the important information early, which will leave more time for revision.
On the day of an exam or test, help your child relax and remind them of all the preparation they have done; building their confidence and giving them tips and tricks if they are stuck or anxious is a step towards successful studying. Writing the most important points on a card for your child to look over before sitting an exam can help to refresh their minds of the essentials just before they sit down to do the exam.
Study tips and tricks
- Saying a problem out loud can help a child understand it in a much clearer way.
- Write the solutions out on paper. Keep these pieces of paper as examples for similar problems.
- Use colour – highlight or underline key points to remember.
- Drawings can help some children remember key points.
- Rhymes or words can also be a trigger for remembering.
Don’t be tempted to do your child’s homework. Teachers use homework to find out what the child knows. They do not want parents doing their children’s homework but do want parents to make sure homework is completed and review any mistakes to see what can be learned from them.
Boost your child’s confidence by sitting down with them to figure something out if they don’t get something right away and give them lots of praise once the task is completed.
“Homework always seems to coincide with me trying to get dinner ready and crazy hour with the younger children …. so it can turn into a very stressful situation. I have been given advice to give my daughter Rachel a quiet area for her homework and study. I give her time to try and complete her homework and then if she needs help, I go and give her one-on-one time to finish it. It seems to be working well.”
– Becky Dore
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