A student’s success in school isn’t just based on how well he or she can understand material; rather, academic success also depends on the effectiveness of a student’s study skills. These important skills include adequately preparing and reviewing material for tests, staying organized and exercising proper study habits. When these skills are weak or lacking in a student, that student is prevented from reaching his or her academic potential. While study skills are often seen as crucial for managing academics at the high school level, they can also foster or impede the success of elementary and middle school students, and developing proper study skills at a young age can pave the way for beneficial habits for the duration of a student’s academic career.
The good news is that improving a student’s study skills can be achieved relatively easily when parents are able to identify which skills their students are struggling with, and consistently implement the following strategies.
If your child struggles to keep track of his or her handouts and homework assignments, a binder can help contribute much needed organization to his or her daily routine. Together with your child, select a sturdy, sizeable binder (nothing too large) that will be divided into clearly labeled sections for notes, homework, handouts, tests and quizzes. For elementary students, a single binder will likely work well, while middle school students should have an individual binder dedicated to each subject area. Coordinating binders, folders and notebooks by color according to each class can also help middle school students more effectively organize their materials and lessen the chance of accidentally bringing home the wrong materials.
Planners have long served as a tried-and-true approach to improving student study skills, and for good reason. Planning is a foundational skill students need for success in both academics and the real world, and by actively writing down responsibilities on a daily basis, students also strengthen their time management skills. There are now so many planner layouts and formats geared toward all age levels that your student can easily find a planner that best suits his or her individual preferences. However, a planner should always have ample space for students to record all of their homework assignments and extra-curricular commitments on a daily basis. Keep in mind that the key to successful use of a planner is consistent use and active parent review.
Students need quiet, private environments to efficiently complete homework or best prepare for upcoming tests, which is why parents should encourage their child to utilize a space in the home that is well-lit and free of distracting noises, passersbys or unnecessary technology. While your child may not have any qualms about working at the kitchen table or in front of the TV, the reality is that they’ll achieve far greater focus and comprehension when they have a space of their own. Establishing a specific study time each week night for students can be another helpful strategy for improving study skills. For middle school students, limit access to cell phones or laptops during homework time, and for elementary students, it’s not a bad idea to check in often to note progress and offer assistance if needed.
Professional tutoring is another effective option for improving a student’s study skills that will complement strategies implemented at home and at school. Study skills tutoring programs, like those offered from the Huntington Learning Center, are available to elementary, middle school, and high school students. While study skills tutoring will always be individualized to meet a student’s specific needs, our program for elementary students often focuses on improving dictionary skills, outlining, general communication and referencing skills. For middle school students, our program frequently targets time management skills, test-taking strategies, note-taking tips and general study strategies. For high school students our program focuses on advanced study skills, such as self-quizzing, test anxiety management, and research paper writing.
Learn more about how you can help your student improve his or her study skills, or enroll in one of our proven-effective study skills programs by contacting the Huntington Learning Center at 1-800-CAN-LEARN.