Study skills are key building blocks to student success in order to increase efficiency, academic performance and ultimately self-esteem and confidence. Developing good study habits and strategies – like any other skill – takes time and practice. Here are eight areas to consider - from Teachers on Call’s very own Principal Judy - when looking for ways to develop or improve your child’s study skills.
Encourage Active Listening
Good study skills start in the classroom. Encourage active listening habits in your child at home - and encourage them to use these skills in the classroom. There is much research on active listening and ways to make it work. A simple way to start is to ask them to tell you two things that the teacher said that were important today (then build from there). That will help your child know that paying attention in class and actively listening to the teacher for cues will help prepare them for the course - and for any upcoming assignments and tests.
Practice Reading Comprehension
In simplest terms, reading consists of decoding words, understanding their meaning, and understanding the overall meaning of the words together. You can never start too young – even before your child is able to read by themselves. Practice reading at home – and ask your child the meaning of what you are reading (and once they learn how to read themselves, ask them the meaning of what they are reading). Once they can show basic understanding of what they are reading, add in additional challenges like inference to build their skills. Reading comprehension is not just a study skill – it is an important life skill which cannot be underestimated. Check out this Teachers on Call student success story here.
Try out Time Management Tools
This is a crucial skill for good study habits. There are many ways a child can learn to manage their time. Setting up parameters and showing them different time management tools (like a calendar, using their phone or computer to track, setting a schedule – and keeping it, etc.) that children need to be shown how to use can be a good place to start. Have your child review their tasks, estimate how long it will take to complete, check in to see if the time was realistic, and help them learn that time management, like any other skill, needs work and practice. They will start by over and underestimating the time and skill something needs. As they practice, they will get better at understanding how much time and work is involved in different tasks, and they will be better able to plan their time. Applying this skill to homework and assignments will help them improve their grades.
Learn Memory Skills and Memorization Techniques
There are many approaches, as well as tips and techniques to teach memory skills. One memory trick that works well for most children is mnemonics – where you take the first letter of each item to be remembered and form a word or other memory trick. For example, the Great Lakes are HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior). Have them practice with simple at home tasks, like a short grocery list. Say that you need potatoes, eggs, Tide and snacks – have them form the mnemonic PETS (potatoes, eggs, Tide and snacks) and remind you at the store (of course, you will need to remember it too!). Then, have them apply it to different school tasks they need to memorize.
Boost Mental Health and Encourage Stress Management
Studying for anything in life is stressful. With the return to pre-pandemic style teaching and test taking (like formal exams), the stress is very high on our students. Find ways to help them manage stress – which will vary child to child. CAMH (Center for Addiction and Mental Health) has written a extensively to offer resources and ideas on coping with stress. Be sure to check in with your child regularly and remind them that nothing in life is “all or nothing” and that you are there for them.
Support their Learning Style
If your child has not already done so, have them do a learning styles inventory – there are many online options, but you can also ask your child’s teacher or school for their recommended, education-based link (it should be available online) to find out if they are a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner. That way, they can begin to tailor their study habits to their learning style. For example, a visual learner may want to write out summary notes that are ten pages long, then rewrite them to five pages, then rewrite to two pages. While this may be very helpful for a visual learner, it would not work for an auditory or kinesthetic learner. In their classroom, their teacher is likely using UDL (Universal Design for Learning) and DI (Differentiated Instruction) to appeal to their learning style. You can find out more about UDL and DI in Learning for All. At Teachers on Call, our tutors also take on the role of academic coaches and are well-versed in supporting study skills and habits for different types of learners.
Practice Note Taking and Test Taking Skills
Practice and repetition – along with check ins to ensure notes are clear and cover the necessary material – are a good way to start with note taking. Like memorization, there are multiple sources for note taking and test taking skills, but most are age/grade dependent, so we have not included specific links here. These are often also subject-specific. For example, notes that a child takes in science class will vary from the types of notes taken in English class – and their tests are very different as well. Again, this is where an academic coach can be supportive (a professional tutor can take on this role). They have a breadth of experience to provide support for the individual subjects and learning needs of your child.
Explore how Tutoring can Help
Teachers on Call’s in-person and online tutors help with fostering study skills and work habits, in addition to subject specific support in areas like math, science and French. If you are not sure if you child needs a tutor, this blog may be beneficial.
We hope you find our observations helpful as you consider tutoring support for your child. Should you want to explore further, the Teachers on Call team is here to help!
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