Like any soon-to-be parents, my wife and I are both excited and nervous at the same time for the arrival of our first baby. As soon as we learned about my wife’s pregnancy, we began seeking advice from our relatives and friends on the many things that we have to be ready for if we wanted to be good parents. However, what struck me most during one of my conversations with a colleague was when she told me how kids nowadays seem to be as stressed as working adults because of the heavy load at school.
To think about schooling this early may seem like an unimportant matter but, let’s face it, time flies so fast. Before we know it, we’ll be dropping off our little man to pre-school. Of course, I would not want my kid to be burned out before the race even begins because there will be much more stressful events in the future. For one, I know high school has evolved to be very rigid and tough; what more during college when everything is fast-paced.
I asked a colleague how she helps her kids handle the stress. Aside from regular family time out during weekends, she also told me that developing good study habits among her kids early on helped them in handling pressure and, ultimately, in coping with stress at school.
This was validated by a report published by Rocketship Education, one of the leading charter or non-profit schools in the United States. The educational institution said that the vast majority of their students, adorably called “Rocketeers,” attribute their preparedness for middle school to their elementary experience where they are prepared to work hard, learn new things, and are trained to work in groups. Rocketship also said that other important skills that need to be developed in children are good study habits, which include preparing well for tests, keeping track of assignments and learning independently.
The report further said that if children are given a solid foundation in the early years, they would thrive in middle school, high school, and beyond. When kids are able to handle school demands well, they become more confident and optimistic.
From what I have gathered in my conversations with my friends and workmates, I have collated below some practical tips on how to develop good study habits among kids:
1. Make learning fun
Kids learn better when they are having fun with their lessons. Why not turn their lessons into amusing games or activities? These need not be intricate or elaborate games, a simple memory game, for example, can do the trick. Moreover, incorporate pictures to your lessons as much as you can because kids will have better chances of memorizing their assignments if they can associate words with photos.
Allow them also to make their own choices so that they would not feel restricted. But that does not mean letting them make random choices. As parents, we are responsible for guiding our kids in making smart choices. For example, among the assignments that they need to accomplish, teach them to identify the more important tasks that they need to do first and allot time to finish those tasks. Empowering your kids to make smart choices will allow them to feel more confident with themselves and develop them into more competent individuals.
2. Teach children to be systematic
At a very young age, it is important to instill the value of being organized to your kids. Train them to take notes to avoid being overwhelmed by having to remember everything. Explain to them the advantages of writing down assignments, making to-do lists, and reviewing these items to check if they are on track. This is also a good opportunity to train them to work on deadline in order for them to intelligently manage their time and, in the end, make their lives much easier.
3. Designate study time and playtime
Student life should not be all about work. It should have fun, too. Balance it out by designating TV or game time and study time. For example, Friday nights and Saturdays should be all play and no work. Sundays should be an opportunity to refresh themselves with lessons from last week and a chance to do homework and a little advance readings.
Moreover, parents can help their child in identifying the time of their peak performance. It may vary from person to person – sometimes it’s immediately after school, other times it’s during the evening. Initially, what you can do is to try to study at different times during the day to determine the time in which your child functions more effectively. Keep in mind though that you have to be flexible as there may be instances when your child might be too tired to review even during their ideal study time.
4. Have a dedicated space for studying
The living room is the perfect nook at home to bond with your family. However, it may not be the most ideal place for studies as it offers a lot of distractions, especially if the television is on or if other family members are enjoying a board game.
Assign a space where your child can concentrate well on his studies. It need not be a restrictive space. In fact, your dining table can be a location that is conducive to learning, provided it has ample lighting and adequate space where your child can lay down his books, notebooks and other learning materials. It can also be at the terrace, facing the garden to give your kid a relaxing view while studying to clear his mind.
Most parents also find it effective to have two or three alternative study locations in cases when the primary study location is unavailable. Furthermore, a change in atmosphere could also do wonders to spark your child’s interest and attentiveness.
5. Create an exam reviewer for your child
A good way to avoid cramming or overwhelming your child with information is to create an exam reviewer. The reviewer should contain the summary of the essential topics that will be covered by the test to allow for easy reading. Also, break long paragraphs into easy-to-read sentences to prevent fatigue. If your child is relaxed, he will be able to better understand and remember his lessons.
6. Teach your child to think positively
Positivity begets positivity. Most adults would agree that having an optimistic mindset makes a lot of difference. This is a good virtue that parents can encourage their kids to embrace. When preparing for a major test, parents can remind their kids to just do their best. It relieves pressure, boosts their confidence and concentration, and inspires them to believe that difficult situations pass and can be overcome.
Furthermore, schools should also focus on modeling and reinforcing positive behaviors rather than punishing children for negative behaviors. Many students confront very challenging experiences at home and in their community. It is the educators’ responsibility to help students learn how to understand and manage their emotions. One strategy would be to integrate social and emotional learning opportunities and positive behavior interventions and supports throughout the school day.
As you go through your journey, mistakes are bound to be committed along the way. Treat every slip-up as a learning opportunity for you and your child. According to Bright Horizons, when children are given the chance to struggle and sometimes fail, you allow them to develop important social and emotional skills.
Ultimately just enjoy every moment with your children. In the words of author Eileen Kennedy-Moore,
“The miracle of children is that we just don’t know how they will change or who they will become.” Even so, the influence of parents still plays a big part on how children will turn out to be when they grow up.
All images are courtesy of Pexels.