Saturday, October 31, 2009

Take the worry out of study

The pressure is piling on, but parents can help students prepare for the stressful exam period.
 With only three weeks until year 12 students finish high school, they are no doubt consumed at this time of year with final exams.
For parents and other family members, it’s important you support your senior student when it comes to study time, so here are some simple ideas to give your child their best chance of success.
Turn off the TV. This should be a household rule for study time, as even if it is on, with the volume down low, it will still be a distraction and will especially draw young children away from what they should be doing.
The radio, on the other hand, can sometimes be useful for students aiming to create a relaxing environment to study, so this will depend on your child.
Restrictions may need to be placed on the family phone and mobiles, to avoid further distractions, and set a strict time limit on how long phone calls should last with school friends.
Make sure your teen has a designated study area with a desk and comfortable chair, cool air, and ample lighting.
Sometimes students work better at the kitchen table where they can call on parents to help at any time, but remember this means that the dining room should be free of distractions such as television or noisy conversations with other family members.
Whether they are at a desk or kitchen table, students need plenty of room to spread out their materials, and also make sure they have ample supplies such as pencils, pens, paper, books such as a dictionary or encyclopedia, and other items relevant to their studies.
It is also worthwhile to use a pinboard to post important school items, calendars, permission slips or reminders.
Encourage your child to use a diary or notebook to write down assignments so that there is no confusion with due dates and they can organise study and homework projects.
While routine is very important for study, it’s just as important that the routine of the household stays the same.
Serve meals at the same time each day, and set study and play times as well.
Teach your child that studying is more than just doing homework assignments. One of the most misunderstood aspects of schoolwork is the difference between studying and doing homework.
Encourage your child to take notes as they are reading a chapter, learn to skim material, learn how to study tables and charts, and learn to summarize what they have read in their own words.
If your child needs to memorise formulas, dates, spelling or numbers, make up flashcards to help them review.
Note-taking is a critical skill and should be developed. Many students don't know how to take notes in those classes that require them. Some feel they have to write down every word the teacher says.
In some cases, particularly if a lot of material was covered, it is a good idea to rewrite notes to help review the subject matter.
Help your child to feel confident for tests. Taking tests can be a traumatic experience for some students.
Explain to your child that cramming the night before a test is not productive. Better to get a good night's sleep.
If your child gets frustrated with an assignment that is too long or too difficult, it’s important for parents to step in and give them a break from their homework – and I don’t mean finish it for them.
Little can be accomplished if a child is angry or upset, so write a note to the teacher explaining the situation and perhaps request a meeting to discuss the quality and length of homework assignments.
I’m sure many parents wonder how much they should help their child with their studies, if at all.
But I believe that helping them is part of their learning, so long as you are not writing it for them.
If they need help with spelling or checking a math problem, then help the child understand what they did wrong.
If the task is something teenagers can clearly do themselves, then parents need to butt out.
Be genuine in your offer to help and show your support. Don’t hold a grudge because you’ve been asked to do long division!
Offer positive feedback to your child, and praise them when they receive good grades.
Some kids will avoid talking about homework with their parents as they may feel ashamed of a bad result.
The best thing for parents to do is ask how they went in the exam and offer to help with further study.
If they choose not to talk about it with you, don’t give them the third degree.
Generally if a child is doing poorly in a subject the teacher will send out a notice to parents to let them know.
If this happens, you need to talk with the teacher, along with your child, to find out what the difficulty might be and how to set them on a better study path.
If such warning notices are not sent out by the school, then you may only find out about your child’s results in their report cards.
Another clue that things are not going well is if your child makes statements such as “I hate my teacher” or “He talks too fast”.
This is an indication that your child is frustrated in understanding the lesson content.
Be cautious in contacting teachers without your child's approval or interest. It may disrupt good feelings between you and make you seem to be interfering and spying.
When taking a test, students should be reminded that it’s important to read the questions thoroughly first before starting to answer the test questions.
Let them know it’s OK to skip over questions they don’t know and if there’s time, go back to them at the end.

10 tips for students

1. Establish a routine: Set aside a particular time each day for study and revision and stick to it.
2. Create a study environment: This should be away from interruptions and household noise, such as the television. Ensure there is adequate lighting and ventilation, a comfortable chair and appropriate desk.
3. Set a timetable: With a timetable you can plan to cover all your subjects in an organised way, allotting the appropriate time for each without becoming overwhelmed.
4. Look after yourself: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and eat healthy foods. Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Regular physical exercise makes you feel great, boosts your energy and helps you relax.
5. Reward yourself for studying: Watch your favourite television program, spend time with your friends, walk to the park and play sport throughout the week.
6. Have variety in your study program: Study different subjects each day and do different types of work and revision in each study session.
7. Avoid interrupting your concentration: Have all the appropriate materials with you before you start a session of study to minimise distractions.
8. Test yourself on what you have studied: Ask your parents or family members to quiz you on what you have learnt, use draft questions from books, past assessments or major exam papers.
9. Don't panic at exam time: If you have followed a study routine and have been revising your class work, there should be no need to worry. Try to keep yourself calm, positive and confident.
10. Ask your teachers for guidance: Especially if you're having trouble - whether it's grasping a new concept or understanding something you learnt earlier in the year. They will be happy to help.


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