Teaching Study Habits

Many children, especially those with learning difficulties, don’t instinctively know how to study, rather it is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught. Initially, you would work together with your child to develop study habit and techniques, but over time, as your child becomes more competent, you would gradually reduce the scaffolding you provide.

Determine weaknesses

  • Help your child recognize areas of weakness, not just in subject areas but also in behaviors (e.g., your child might find it difficult to sit still for long periods).
  • Together, brainstorm and then implement solutions. These might include building in breaks, asking for help or developing study plans.

Make study timetables

  • Teach your child how to slot in homework around other activities (e.g., sport or other extracurricular activities).
  • Help your child set up a system for keeping track of due dates for assignments and test dates.
  • Teach your child how to break large assignments into manageable chunks and then to program them into the child’s study timetable. Work backwards from the assignment due date and work out each step that needs to be completed before the assignment can be submitted. For example, the last step is submitting the assignment. The second last step is finalizing the copy of the assignment you will submit. The third last step is proof reading your assignment. Once each step has been determined decide how long it will take to complete that step. Each day review what needs to be done and review your child’s progress.
  • Similarly, teach your child how to study for up-coming tests and how to build this into their study timetable.
  • Teach your child how to prioritize the different homework requirements in terms of importance and the size of the task.
  • In addition to a weekly timetable, consider having a large wall calendar in your child’s room so they can see what is required over a whole term. This is particularly useful for high school students and also helps you monitor that your child is on track.

Teach your child specific study skills that match the task

  • Mind maps can be useful for studying interrelated concepts such as different types of material and their properties in science.
  • Timelines might be useful in history.
  • Flash cards might be useful for studying words from another language or learning the symbols associated with different elements.
  • A chart or table might be useful for remembering the different components studied in a text in English (setting, genre, title, author, nutshell sentence, point of view, theme, particular techniques used, characterization, etc.).
  • Once your child has created the study tools, give them a specific amount of time to learn a particular component. At the end of that time, orally test your child to see how much can be remembered. Highlight the sections that need further study.

If your child is having difficulty completing homework, it could be because they have not learned the concepts being taught in the classroom and need further additional support. If this is the case, it is important to choose a teacher who will be able to identify gaps in your child’s knowledge and teach this information. This is completely different to just helping your child complete the homework tasks.


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