How to Encourage and Teach Good Study Habits (page 2)
Children need good study skills in order to complete assignments successfully and gain the most from them academically. Unfortunately, many students haven't developed these skills, even by high school.
Some school districts provide comprehensive programs that spell out what study skills students in kindergarten through 12th-grade are expected to learn each year. This can help to assure that important skills are introduced early and nurtured throughout a student's years in school.
Kindergarten or first grade is not too early to introduce students to bringing work home, completing it, and returning it to school. Early assignments need to be simple. For example, very young students might be asked to bring a book for an adult to read to them -- or for the child to read to an adult if he or she can do so. The adult might be asked to initial a bookmark indicating that the book as been read. These early assignments help students grasp the importance of learning at home and show adults that their support for homework is critical.
Older elementary school students are ready to learn more advanced study skills. These include:
- setting a regular time to study that fits in with the student's family schedule
- removing distractions (turning off the television and discouraging social phone calls during homework time)
- gathering necessary supplies
- recording assignments in an assignment book or on a calendar
- managing time
- organizing for a test.
Students need to review these study skills in middle school and in junior high as their schedules become more complicated.
"Not all seventh-graders are well organized," says Ms. Reynolds. "Some don't know how to handle having assignments from different teachers, or remember what they have to do and the books they need. So I spend lots of time on study skills. It would be nice if they had all of that down. But you can bat your head against the wall, or you can teach it." And once you do, she says, "They've got it."
Reinforcing junior high school students' study skills can also reduce what Mr. Cormier, describes as "the biggest problem for kids at this stage (seventh- and eighth-graders) -- cramming."
Many students need to sharpen their study skills still further as they move into high school and find more demands being placed on their time. Many have trouble pacing themselves as they take on more extracurricular activities and accept part-time jobs.
Richard Ruffalo, a New Jersey teacher, encourages his high school biology students to pace themselves by collecting a block of homework assignments at the same time. For example, he may make several assignments on one day, all of which are due 12 days later. Students quickly learn that the assignments must be completed in order to perform satisfactorily on tests given at the end of the 12 days -- and that if they wait until the last minute to begin all of the assignments that their homework grades and test scores will suffer.
Students often imitate the organizing habits of important adults in their lives. Therefore teachers can set an example by being organized themselves. They can let students know that they, too, keep calendars to avoid forgetting things. And they can comment to students as they write down on their own calendar, "April 11 -- bring sombrero to school for Spanish class."
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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