How To Boost Your Children's Study Skills

By: Frank McGinty

Once when touring the Highlands of Scotland, I came across a man who said something I will never forget.

The man was elderly, yet was still working on his small farm. He had no intention of retiring, and when asked if he felt the pace of the years he said he really enjoyed his work but - and this is what stuck with me! - "It's a day's work getting started."

In other words every day he had to gather up his strength and resolve, get out there and get going.

This pearl of wisdom is not only for crofters!

The same principle applies to our kids when they have to get down to serious home study or 'homework': "It's a day's work getting started!"

Should we leave our kids to it, or can we as parents help in any way?

We CAN help. In many ways. Let's look at just a few, but even these can make a huge difference to the outcome of homework sessions.

Most important of all is a home study place to meet the student's needs.

So many students attempt to do their study in the living room or at the dining table where there are all kinds of distractions: people coming and going, the TV blaring, and so on.

Instead, try to provide your kids with a quiet area which they learn to associate with study. This could be a corner of their bedroom or an area of the house set aside for all your kids to study together. Facilities for online study are an added bonus.

Try to provide a table or a desk which is used for study sessions only, so that books and equipment can be left as they were.

It's so much easier when all you have to do is sit down and pick up from where you left off!

It's easy to overlook the importance of having all the things you need for a study session close at hand. Imagine what it does to motivation when you have to stop every couple of minutes to ask: "Anyone seen my calculator?" or "Anyone got an eraser?"

It helps greatly and makes them feel organized and industrious when they have all the 'knick-knacks' that go with an effective home study programme:

Notebooks, ring binders, pencils, erasers, pens, wallets, a calculator, geometry equipment, science items, etc.

Most students either have low-paying part-time jobs or rely on an allowance from their parents, so they tend to be appreciative when their parents help out with these items. Parents can also look on it as a sensible investment in their child's career.

Although it's obvious, it's worth stressing that the study area needs to have a good flow of fresh air and be kept at an appropriate temperature for studying. It's not easy to work in an environment that's stuffy and is either too hot or too cold.

But in some homes it's just not possible to set aside a study area. What then?

Cue the relatives, especially the grandparents! Most often they have room to spare, and think how pleased they'd be to see junior drop in to do his homework.

Or perhaps there's room at a friend's house and the two could meet up there. You'd have to monitor this, however, as it's amazing how easily study sessions can turn in to discussions about football, music or the latest gossip!

If that worries you, you could inquire whether the school runs a Homework Club or Supported Study classes after lessons. These are becoming more and more popular and teachers oversee them, so the homework gets completed.

This could be a 'Win - Win - Win' situation: Parents supply the study materials, the school supplies the place and the right atmosphere, and the students make the effort.

Helping your kids in the crucial area of home study will benefit them greatly in the long term.

Happy parenting!

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