After completing a full day at school, commitment to after-school activities and sitting down to dinner, the inevitable must be procured from the backpack… homework.
Can we all agree on a few things here? Homework should not only complement the classroom work, but it should fulfill a specific function, from Day One/Grade One; homework should instill the classroom lessons in the memory of the child, effectively and efficiently as possible.
At home at the kitchen table or established study area, your child has the rare opportunity to review the presented materials using his or her own learning style–auditory, kinesthetic or reverse osmosis, however your unique little person operates. It’s up to us “post-scholars” to give our children something not every classroom has the luxury of providing–lessons on HOW to learn, HOW to study, HOW to get the information of the day to stay between the ears, at least until test time. But how?
Teacher and school administrator Gary Howard has been helping children get better grades for over 35 years. What he’s proven to parents, students, and teachers, year after year, is that very little improvement is possible unless you can teach the children HOW TO LEARN in the first place.
His new book, Help Your Kids Get Better Grades is designed so that parents can simply, quickly and effectively mentor children and guide them to do the right things at home and at school, so that they learn how to study better, listen and take notes, and take tests with less stress.
“Parents can have a tremendous impact on how a child handles school and test-taking,” he says. “But it is the child who is taking the test.”
Howard’s book identifies what is needed for children to discover and grow the talents they are born with. Education success however, is in the hands of the student who has to practice by studying. Howard focuses on how to make studying fun.
Here are just some of Howard’s suggestions on how parents can help children improve their study habits and effectiveness:
Shop and let the student select the perfect pen. The right pen makes all the difference when taking notes or writing long essay answers on an exam. Parents may be surprised, but printing is easier for many students than writing script cursive.
Schedule Study Time and Stick with It. Set up a weekly schedule for study time with two forty-minute study times each day with a 20 minute break between. Pick the times and stick to the times.
Buy Study Guides for Your Student. For high school and college, these 5 to $9 guides of key subjects are the easiest and fastest way to get the bottom line necessary building blocks of information on a topic. In no way are they to be considered cheating. They are a wonderful way to get the outline and vital subjects identified.
Encourage Participation in Study Groups. After school, join a group, discuss ideas, ask each other questions and research the answers together. But focus on work, this is not a social gathering.
Get a Tutor. In sports you have a coach, at the health club there’s a trainer, so in classes, don’t hesitate, get a tutor. Use the Internet and search. It’s not as expensive as you may imagine. The help over the tough spots can be invaluable – the difference between getting it, and losing it. (Note from Rebecca: I’ve had several parents tell me how hiring a tutor for a semester to help with a difficult subject significantly improved the student’s abilities and attitude for the remainder of high school. Awesome investment? I think so!)
Get a Good Backpack. The essential items include: notebooks, two favorite pens, two pencils, text books (for the day only), Kleenex, energy bars, medications, two dollars in change, and clothes for the weather. Parents – inspect weekly or anytime. Write your name address and phone number in indelible ink on the pack in case it gets lost.
Have Reading Skills Tested. Make sure your child is at the appropriate level for his or her age and does not have eye problems. See an eye doctor if you have any doubts or concerns.
Home Study Location, Chair and Lighting. Sufficient lighting, comfortable desk and chair, with little or no distractions! No TV, radio, music, or games during study time.
Getting Proper Note-Taking Down. Taking good notes is a learned skill. Use clean paper and favorite pens, three-ring binder with paper and separators, outline with notes and major points. Re-reading good notes is where learning really takes place. (Note from R: I wrote down everything my teachers said in college. Really! I would simply read my (albeit) cryptic shorthand every evening to solidify my memory of the lecture, then again at test time. Straight A’s, anyone? Yes, please!)
Develop Your Memory with Mnemonics. Using rhymes, telling stories or jokes, and memorizing four to five letter acronyms is a great way to remember lists of details or essential rules. Writing these 20 times engraves them on your brain.
What are your tips for helping children to learn better study skills?