Study Skills - How Can YOU Help Your Kids?
Some years ago when touring the Scottish Highlands, a man I met said something that's stuck with me ever since.
He was elderly, yet was still working away on his small farm. He had no intention of retiring, and when asked if he felt the pace of the years he said no, he really enjoyed his work but - and this is what stuck with me! - "It's a day's work getting started."
In other words every day he had to gather up his strength and resolve, get out there and get going.
And this doesn't apply only to farming, does it?
The same principle applies to our kids when they have to get down to serious home study or 'homework': "It's a day's work getting started!"
So how can we help our kids when their teachers aren't there to 'motivate' them?
There are lots of ways, but here we'll consider only a few of the practical details that are well within our control - and which can radically affect the quality of the study sessions.
First and foremost is a suitable place for studying.
So many kids attempt to do their study in the living room or at the dining table where there are all kinds of distractions: people coming and going, the TV blaring and so on.
Try to provide your kids with a quiet area which they learn to associate with study. This could be a corner of their bedroom or an area of the house set aside for all your kids to study together. Facilities for online study are an added bonus.
It's important to have a desk or table where books and materials can be spread out and left open - ready and always available.
Two of the biggest impediments to home study are:
It's much, much easier when all you have to do is sit down and pick up from where you left off!
Another serious, but seemingly trivial, impediment is a lack of ready materials. How motivated do we think our kids will be when they're always asking: 'Anyone got a spare pencil?' or bemoaning the fact that, 'My worksheets are all mixed up!'
It helps greatly and makes them feel organised and industrious when they have all the 'nick-nacks' that go with an effective home study programme:
Pens, pencils, notepads, binders or folders, plastic wallets or 'envelopes' for keeping individual pages in order, rulers, Scotch tape, erasers, a calculator, and so on.
These items can make a dent in a student's allowance, so as caring, interested parents willing to invest in our kids' future, it's usually appreciated when we make these available.
It goes without saying the study room should be well-ventilated and maintained at an appropriate temperature. Nothing kills the study habit more than a lack of oxygen and an environment that's too hot or too cold!
But what if you have a large family and there's just no free space for a study area?
In that case call on the relatives. Usually grandparents will have a spare room, and they'd be delighted to see the kids calling in regularly for a study session.
Or maybe your kids could team up with friends over at their house. But be careful! There could be a temptation to chat instead of getting the heads down!
In that case, check whether the school runs a Homework Club. Many schools are now doing this and it's proving a highly popular option. Sessions are held after school and supervised by teachers - so the work gets done!
If your school doesn't have this, ask for it! You provide the materials, the school provides the location - and the kids supply the effort. Voila!
Doing all you can to provide homework help will pay huge dividends all round.
Why do some parents and children succeed, while others fail? Frank McGinty is an internationally published author and teacher. If you want to develop your parenting skills and encourage your kids to be all they can be, visit his web pages, http://www.frank-mcginty.com/peace-formula.html AND http://www.frank-mcginty.com/for-parents.html
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