Whether you are a parent that passionately believes in school being an altar of discipline or one who has chosen the route to homeschooling, you must agree that as the years go by, it is very important to form a solid strategy around how to inculcate effective study habits into the routine of your child. There are many aspects to this one goal which when you closely examine actually breaks down to having a routine, following it as a habit, choosing this routine every day over the distractions available, retaining the information accumulated during study time by building memory and remembering the knowledge retained over a period of time.
Build a Routine
Any act of deliberate design requires consistent effort over time. A very important aspect of a child’s life is a routine. As a parent, it is imperative that a broad routine on how to spend a day is chalked out in advance for your child. Barring the odd days of throwing routine to the wind and engaging in some spontaneous activities, it is quite important to follow a semblance of a routine in order for your child to have a sense of what to expect for each day. This is proven to create a sense of stability and safety in the minds of your children. While some periodic deviations are also equally important, the broad routine keeps everyone on their toes.
Children love to play. However, it is up to us to set an expectation that learning is something that is also an integral part of their day. Once they realize this, they will adapt to it very easily. The important thing is to make sure they know that learning isn’t something to be feared or dreaded. Which brings us to the next point on learning should always be by choice and never by coercion.
Highlighting the benefits of study time in a broad spectrum of learning makes a child choose it over other activities especially when they reap the benefits on a daily basis. This can be due to your child appreciating the knowledge which enables them to satisfy their own inherent curiosity or because it helps them interact better with their peers or due to the knowledge enabling them to express themselves better.
Reward and Appreciate
Children respond very well to acts of positive reinforcement. Try to set tangible goals for them and appreciate it when they achieve the same. The appreciation need not always translate to a material reward. Rewards can be anything ranging from spending time with them doing their favorite activity to visiting to a place they want to see. The other benefit of rewards is how we can use this mechanism to teach children what to value. If an aspect of learning itself is offered as a reward, your child comes to value that as a fun thing to do. So go on and make your deals with them. You will be surprised at how your innocent child can turn into a hard task master.
Dealing with Distraction
Rather than dealing with distractions as they come along, an effective strategy to curb distractions is to anticipate them and do away with them before study time begins. This will prevent your child from getting tempted by the distraction and actually having to make the choice of choosing study over it.
Try to establish the routine of study time every day at a particular time so that everyone on the periphery of your child’s life will abide by it accordingly. Once the routine is an established one, everyone concerned will seldom question it and will take it as a given occurrence. This is the best way to make sure your child has undisturbed study time with minimal distractions.
Short Term Memory Building
Think about situations in life that require short term memory. It’s used in storing information that you need to retain for just a few minutes or hours. Like a phone number when you do not find a pen nearby or an instruction to use an appliance. It could also be more time based memory like getting back to what one was doing after facing an interruption.
In the context of a child, this is very important to cultivate as they may be interrupted by a plethora of things ranging from a phone call to the call of nature while doing something important. The ability to remember to go back to what they were doing and focus on the task at hand determines the successful completion of many a projects.
A wonderful way to get your child to learn to focus on the task at hand is to engage in peer learning at home. Allocate to them a task of reminding you something and watch them take pride in remembering it. They will automatically apply the same skills they thus learn to their own life.
Long Term Memory Building
Actively use memory building techniques outside the realm of study with your child. Some common and very effective memory building techniques are:
- Play cards with them once in a while and make sure they learn the new rules as well as how to strategize to win.
- Teach them to connect information which has been broken into smaller chunks in a mind map for better recall.
- Help them understand that information that is multisensory is easier to understand; for e.g. Visual learning.
- Make fun habits like recalling facts about something as a dinner table game. Such activities help in strengthening long term memory.
How to make a tiny change to develop a habit
Science tells us that doing the same thing every day for a month makes it a habit. However, all of us sometimes forget to do something before we make a habit of it. One effective way to develop a new habit is
- Break down the task into really small, mindless chunks.
- Tie the task to something that already happens every day without fail.
For example, you know that your child sits down for a snack after coming back from school; try to get them to read aloud something they learned that day after the snack is over. This will develop the habit of opening their books as soon as the snack is over which will lead to cultivation of a study habit over time.
Making learning a task with no boundaries of time
It is important for everyone to remember that learning is something that should be cultivated in a child’s life with no boundaries of time. It is this habit of learning on-the-go that will stand your child in good stead in life, which will inevitably follow after their school life.
So challenge their mind even outside of the two hours you may have kept aside for study. Help your kids look at it as a time to assimilate and process what they learn all the time. This will also help them appreciate learning over a period of time.
Having seen the different ways to manage your child’s study habits, go ahead and help them learn to deal with their workload in smart and effective ways. However, many of us forget to draw the parallel between what is learnt in school and how to apply that in day to day life after school. But it is this parallel that will keep in perspective the whole exercise of learning over a period of time. Happy Parenting!
How do you ensure that your child retains the lessons that he/she learns at school? Share with us your tips and tricks in the comments below!