Most students have no clue how to study. It’s normal, and most of us at some point felt the same way. Growing up, we’re never formally taught how to study, so much as we’re asked to. No less, seldom do we get to observe an adult with their nose in the books. Unfortunately, many students truly don’t understand how to effectively study, and often don’t end up learning until college. So, what effective studying methods can you and your child employ now to see learning gains? Below, I’ve listed ten ways to study that can make all the difference.
1. Set Clear Goals
You’ve set your heart and mind to study, but don’t jump in quite yet. Spending an hour aimlessly sifting through your notes, or sporadically jumping from practice problems to homework, isn’t doing you any good. Before setting out on your brain workout, identify what you’re hoping to accomplish. Take a minute to think: how do I best use this time? Consult your planner. If a test or quiz is coming up, maybe deciding to use your study session to prepare makes sense. More specifically, create an agenda for your study time. It doesn’t necessarily need to be formal, but even having a rough idea of how you’ll allocate your time between ELA and Math or Science before you start will allow you to pace yourself.
2. Plot Your Course
Uh-oh. Your child is feeling anxious about a math test their teacher announced in class today. Luckily, your child has the advantage of time, so be sure to use it! It’s pivotal to plan the steps your child will take to prepare leading up to the exam. Without a clear plan, test dates tend to creep up with little or last-minute preparation. Moreover, young students don’t always react well to suddenly being asked to study, gradually working up the exam will help develop their stamina, never mind their preparation. You could use something as simple as a calendar or agenda to plot your course, but be sure you do.
3. Breaks Are Your Friend
Tempting as it may be, plowing through your studies without taking breaks doesn’t do you much good. If we’re truly learning, and making the most of our time, we should feel a bit fatigued from time to time. If your brain is telling you that it’s time for a break, listen. Sometimes, the reason we’re zoning out or making careless errors, is that we need to take a moment to recalibrate. Every once in a while, it’s worth going for a walk outside, or even chatting up a family member for a few minutes. Ultimately, this will allow you to work even longer than you otherwise would, and the time you spend will be of higher quality.
4. Positivity Propels You
Your frame of mind when studying can have massive effects on your ability to understand and retain information, as well as your willingness to. The ladder is easy to imagine, if you’re reluctantly studying and longing to stop, eventually you will. However, if you choose excitement and optimism when studying, you’ll be more willing to do rigorous, successful studying. You could read more about just how much of a difference positive thinking can make on learning outcomes.
5. Test Yourself
There’s nothing quite like exam day. The general nervousness hanging over the room, and the rush of receiving your exam, are unique experiences. Although these variables may not be so easy to mimic, other aspects of testing can be worked into your preparation. For instance, try to answer a set of questions without consulting any of your notes. Come exam day, looking at similar previous problems won’t be an option, so you must be able to provide complete solutions without referencing help. Perhaps your testing weakness is time management, so maybe you can try to solve problems within time constraints similar to those on test day. The point is, the better you can mimic testing elements, the better you can identify challenges and prepare for them.
6. Create a Routine, Form A Habit
One of the biggest landmarks when it comes to students’ studying habits is when their studying becomes habitual. Once studying has become habitual, not only does the experience become smoother and more efficient, but it becomes more consistent. Consistency in studying is one of the most important factors when it comes to studying efficacy. Studying from time to time, here and there, is unlikely to affect any sincere growth.
7. Note Stumbling Blocks
More often than not, our study time should be spent working through what we don’t know. It does us little good to repeatedly practice the things we excel at, so when you identify certain concepts you’re having trouble with, take note of it. Later on, this will help you formulate study plans, and prioritize test content when preparing. What’s even cooler, is that embracing these challenges while studying will not only make you a stronger student, but it’ll make you a more confident student.
8. Find Study Buddies
Studying can sometimes lack the appeal of alternative activities at your child’s fingertips. Luckily, you can modify your students’ studying experience by inviting study buddies. Studying alongside friends leverages the excitement of a student’s social sphere into studying. Creating an academic social setting could be cause for increased motivation in school for your child. As a result, students have an easier time remaining engaged in the group’s activities, which may be discussing a challenging problem, or listening to friends share their answers.
9. Reach Out For Help
Yes, independence is important when developing problem-solving skills, but so is knowing the limits of your knowledge. From time to time, we need to call on help in school. Whether it’s your teacher or tutor, reach out when you can’t seem to make things click. Spending too much time hung up on material is an ineffective use of your time, and there’s simply no harm in having somebody verify your understanding and explanation. You don’t always need to wait until your stuck to seek out additional support studying. Tip-Top Brain has stellar instructors who can help you when you hit a wall, or work with you on a plan for continuing to develop even stronger academic skills.
10. Pull-Apart Feedback
It’s time to yank all of your old quizzes, assessments, and other graded assignments from your backpack. When we receive a lower-than-hoped grade on an assignment, we usually wince, but it’s what we do after that makes a student. After taking a second to breathe, you must read through where you lost points, and what feedback your teacher had for you. Without taking the time and energy to recognize our mistakes, we have no way to prevent making them in the future. It’s especially useful to annotate the feedback and write corrections where applicable. This way, when it’s time to study, and you begin analyzing past assignments, you’ll be able to quickly pinpoint problematic questions and the correct responses.
Learning how to study isn’t done in a day, nor year. Studying skills are gained over the course of an entire academic career. Each of our studying practices varies, as we all have different needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all studying regimen. Similarly, there is no means to become a pro-studier overnight. Take the time to consult a plethora of studying methods with your student and figure out what works. Try and be consistent with your use of study tools in order to gauge how effective they are. Remember to be patient and remind your child of the excitement and fun studying can bring. Which of these tips will you try out first?