15 Feb How to Help My Elementary School Child Study More Effectively
How to Build Effective Studying Skills for Elementary School Children
Studying Tips for Elementary School Children
Helping your elementary school child develop good study skills is crucial. We’ve created a list of both serious and fun techniques so parents can help their children study more effectively. In addition to improving current academic performance, building strong study habits now, will be even more useful as school gets more challenging. Remember, discussing ideas with your kids, will make improving children’s study habits more likely to be successful.
Setting Aside Time for both Homework and Studying Brings Great Benefits
Parents who teach the importance of both homework and studying give elementary students a head start. Understanding these different and equally important tasks, will be vital as schooling progresses. Homework focuses on teacher-set tasks to help children learn or demonstrate an understanding of one aspect of a subject. Studying improves a child’s understanding of underlying concepts and how new learning fits into the larger subject (i.e. how fractions connect with existing math knowledge and how they build on multiplication and division). Motivating kids to make studying a weekly habit, makes doing homework easier and avoids the need for cramming for tests. Reviewing homework, flash cards, sight words, and vocabulary/spelling lists and are a few ways studying can reinforce homework and cement learning. Older students can study tables or charts, take notes while reading a chapter, and summarize what a child read in his/her own words.
Help your Child Set Mini-Goals for Study and Homework Sessions
Setting short-term goals can help elementary school students build an effective framework for studying. This process becomes crucial in middle school and high school. Having a goal, or setting an intention, for a block of time can help anchor and focus a child’s mind.* Adapt these ideas for your child and grade level: create a set of 3×5 cards of frequent goals/study tasks, or use a printed check list, sticky notes, or a whiteboard with check boxes:
- I am focusing on my (subject)_______ homework
- I am studying for a test on (subject)_______
- I’m learning my sight words (or spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, or synonyms)
- I’m working on my social studies homework (more specific: I’m learning the states or continents)
- I’m doing my science homework (or I’m learning about volcanos)
- I’m learning math (or shapes, or practicing counting, telling time, addition, or fractions)
- I am practicing reading
- I’m practicing my letters or writing sentences
*Bonus Study Tips: using action words (learning, doing, working on, practicing, studying, focusing on) when setting a short-term goal or intention is a powerful focusing aid. An inexpensive double-sided whiteboard can be extra useful for this. You can list the statements on the back to help your child remember, but just put the one they are working on right now on the front side. This can help an anxious student focus on the one task (not all of their homework). Kids also get the satisfaction of wiping the one task off when they are done!
Studies Show that Taking Breaks Can Improve Focus for Kids (and Adults)
Learn to notice when your child needs a break in their study routine. If a child is frustrated, completes a section of homework, or when switching subjects, these might be perfect times for a quick break. Invite your child to stand up with you and turn on some music and dance, sing, or try jumping jacks or running in place briefly. You can also ask them if their teacher uses Go Noddle – and what their favorite break is at school. Getting a child’s heart rate up, event for 30 seconds, can wake up the brain and help with focus.
For a quieter break, you can try a mini-mindfulness minute. While kids aren’t likely to jump for joy at a 20-minute meditation, they can join you in taking, 15 breaths – slightly slower than usual: count in one, out one; in two, out two… up to 15 ins and outs and they’ve done 1 minute of mindfulness meditation! You can even work in a positive affirmation at the beginning and end of the breathing exercise, if you know they are nervous about a subject, or about an upcoming test.
Is Background Noise Stimulating for your Child or Over-stimulating While Studying?
I won’t dwell on creating a study space; I’m sure you have that down by now. One thing that remains essential is to monitor your child’s distraction-level in this space. Do they need to be near people to stay on task? Or is a quieter space better, with occasional check-ins from an adult. Headphones with music can be distracting or helpful, depending on the student. With little ones, you’ll need to monitor volume, but there are plenty of brands made for children. Although pricier, noise-cancelling headphones can also help some kids study more effectively.
Three Ways to Make Studying More Fun and Engaging for Elementary School Kids
Does your child have a favorite superhero, cape, or costume? Why not let your kids dress up to do homework or study. My oldest nephew wore a cape at home often when he was younger. What if your child donned a cape to become The Homework Hero. Or a child with a tall, pointed hat could be the Witch or Wizard of Words, Math or Studying. Or wearing a crown, your child could be the king or queen of Homework-Land.
Does your child have a favorite action figure, stuffed animal, or poster of their favorite hero or story book figure? Let them decorate their space with that theme or bring their stuffed animal, poster, or book to their study space. It can help a child feel less isolated while learning.
Incorporate play breaks as well as movement breaks can be a win. Parents can reward children for completing homework for the day with games: from crayons to puzzles (interactive or jigsaw), or a session with play blocks or plastic bricks for older kids. At the end of the week consider a chess match or a family game night. How about a crafting session, beading is a big hit currently, but choose whatever your child likes. When I was into making colored thread bracelets, if my mom had said, “Once you’ve finished studying for your test, you can show me how you make your bracelets.” I would have jumped through the studying hoops way faster.
Use Visual Aides if your Child is Having Difficulties with a Subject
This starts with an awareness of your child’s learning styles and grades. Asking your child what is easy and what they are struggling with is another reference point. Then you can help your child design a solution or bring the right aid into the study space. Would flash cards that you created with your child, mind maps, or diagrams help your child with a specific subject? You can also teach memory techniques to help your child learn, like the abacus visual/mental math that ALOHA teaches or using acronyms like Roy G Biv for rainbow colors, and finding kids songs that teach concepts they are learning.
For Success, Build your Child’s Study Habits around his/her Needs
By adapting some of these study and homework tips and techniques to work effectively for your elementary school aged child’s needs, you can help your student stay engaged, motivated, and on track for academic success.
Written by Cathy Larkin, a freelance writer, and social media coordinator, who has been a part of the ALOHA Mind Math team for several years.
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