It is amazing how quickly homework moves from sweet arts and crafts or basic informational projects to some pretty serious assignments that require concentration. I can still hear my parents remarking how funny I looked as a small girl struggling with my heavy backpack and a set of books that were nearly as big as me. The rigour of the work increases rapidly as kids grow and helping them adjust is an important role for parents and caregivers.
Here are a couple of our study tips for older kids:
Learning to get through longer reading assignments
Instead of sitting down and trying to read 20 pages straight through, taking in every sentence, take time up front to understand how the reading assignment is organised. What are the chapters and how is each chapter broken down into smaller sections? Looking at this will both help both understanding what the “storyline” of the reading assignment is (i.e. what the big points are) but also provides a way to break up the reading. Then go through each section and sub-section quickly, working to comprehend the overall point versus trying to dissect each sentence.
Writing a paper
Kids (and many adults frankly) will often stare at the blank page with dread. It does not need to be so tortuous. Here is the three-step approach to writing: (1) Think about what you want to say, what is your overall point? (2) Sketch out a storyline; in what order do you want to make your major points? (3) Take it a paragraph at a time…. First sentence sets out your point, next two to three sentences provide evidence in support of your point, final sentence summaries the position.
Study Skills Classes
If your older kids’ school does not offer any classes or instruction on the way to study effectively, look for classes in your local community. Yes, this suggestion is guaranteed to elicit the classic teenagers’ gggroooaaannnnn… but hold your ground. Helping your kids gain effective study habits is a gift that will keep giving through high school, college, graduate school and even the move to “the real world”. There are also lots of great resources online.