If your children were to make a list of things they like doing most, homework would probably land somewhere between a cactus massage and toe stubbing.
Today, the educational standards and expectations kids are expected to meet when they enter elementary school are higher than they used to be. Students get significant homework assignments starting in elementary school and are expected to master more advanced subjects at a younger age. Helping children establish good study habits is critical to their long-term educational success. Here are some suggestions from Molle Toyota to support your children in this process:
- Set goals. Sit down with each child and talk about what they want to accomplish. Instead of thinking in terms of letter grades, establish learning for the sake of learning as the goal. With young children, presentation is half of the battle. Instead of gritting your teeth and telling your child, "We have to get this homework done," trying asking, "Wouldn't it be cool to know how to spell all these words?"
- Schedule study time. Remember in college when you put off studying for final exams and watched a cartoon marathon instead? That wouldn't have happened if you had scheduled a consistent study time. It should be undisturbed and at the same time each day, regardless of the amount of work that needs to be done. While it's important to stick to the schedule, it is OK to take short breaks.
- Establish a study area free of distractions. Distractions include TV, radio, telephones, video games, trading cards, magazines, and so on... (It's a long list.) The area should be tidy and be fully stocked with pens, pencils, reference books, and maybe even a picture of your child's favorite athlete or teen idol reading a book.
- Keep an agenda. Teach your children at a young age to record their assignments in a planner or a notebook. Go over it with them and help to develop a plan for completing all assignments within the time allotted. Have them write down exactly what they wish to accomplish during study time and prioritize each assignment by importance. Check off each assignment upon completion. Young people will be amazed at what they can accomplish with consistent daily effort.
- Break down large tasks into smaller tasks. One huge advantage of consistent daily effort is the facilitation of difficult projects. No more waiting until midnight the night before to finish that project your child knew about for three months (and despite what they tell you--they don't work better under pressure).
- Provide healthy snacks. Chomping on an apple or some carrot sticks keeps the brain lively and the mind strong. Have the snack ready before study time begins and set it in the study area.
- Exercise. Eat well. Get enough sleep. These are the cornerstone of a healthy, active lifestyle. Students who exercise regularly do better in school. Students who get enough sleep do better in school. Students who eat well do better in school.
Remember, establishing a good habit takes about three weeks (unlike a bad habit, which takes about three seconds), so be patient and provide lots of encouragement. It'll be worth it. With any kind of luck, your child will thank you for it one day.