Parents can help foster good study habits early in school going children, right from the 1st standard. Of course, your child learns a lot in school. But you also play a big role in creating a good environment for your child’s education.
The idea is not to make them academic fact crammers in a pressure-cooker environment. But the purpose is to create the right foundation and habits in children that will help them in the future and empower children to be self-motivated in their learning.
The purpose is also to provide your children an environment conducive for learning and studying.
We talked to some experienced teachers and also some veteran mommies and daddies. Some guidelines and tips for parents:
Have a regular study time
- Right from when your child starts primary school, have some time allotted for learning every day. This way, your child will get into this habit and it will be much easier in the later classes when they will need to do extra work at home.
- It does not have to be very long. Keep it short. Even 20-30 minutes. Say from 6 to 6:30 pm or even less.
- Even if they come back home late, try and see that they sit down even if for a very short time. Your child will reap the rewards later.
- You do not have to sit with them throughout. But make sure that you are available and they feel open in asking you questions and that you can sit and explain in detail if need be.
- Of course, there will be days when the child does not study, but those are the exceptions and not the norm.
Frequency is important
- Frequency and regular work has more impact than an intensive 2-4 hour session over the weekends.
- Especially in maths and writing skills, frequency is very important. This is what the experts at the Kumon Math readiness classes and Abacus say. (Kumon is a Japanese approach to Math and other disciplines. It is very popular in western countries like the United States as well. Abacus is an approach to mental mathematics very popular in India).
- So even 10 minutes of maths sums a day can be very effective. Remember that practice makes perfect. And try and time them. Once your child learns how to read the time, you can also have her write the start and the end time.
Make sure that there are minimal distractions
- Make sure that it is quiet and there are not too many distractions. Ensure that the TV is turned off and that other members of the house are also supportive of this time.
- If you have 2 or more children, it will help if they all sit down together. If not, then the one not studying could be having some quiet time in another room.
Make sure that they feel fine
- Make sure that the children are relaxed and happy when they sit down. If they are tired, hungry or cranky they will have problems concentrating. And it will be frustrating for them and for you.
Organize and teach them to be organized
- Being organized can make them make the most of that precious study time and not waste time. And it also teaches them another important lesson in life - "stay organized".
- Make sure that the tools are ready and handy. For examples, pencils are sharpened and stationery handy, supply of notebooks that your child can access etc. Keep supplementary materials like dictionary etc. handy and encourage and empower your child to use them.
- Keep their notes or loose sheets in folders (preferably transparent) with subject labels so that you or your child can keep adding their school worksheets in these from time to time. Encourage your child to be independent. It will add to their self esteem.
- It will really help if they have a study desk where they can study quietly. Also, all their books and stationery can be in one place. Encourage them to keep their desks neat and clutter free.
- But if you are unable to have a separate study area for your kids, then make sure that they keep their learning materials (books, stationery etc.) in one place. Some families have a portable tray in which they keep these materials handy and can carry to the dining table. This way they do not have to grab things from different places when the child sits down to study.
Homework for parents: What to make them study?
- What if there is no homework? What does one make them do? This is more relevant for younger children who need their parents’ guidance.
- Ask your child what needs to be done. Teach them how to plan their work at an early age.
- Plan and prepare the study material earlier. Instead of wasting the study time and writing maths sums during it, write them earlier. In fact, once you have some time, write maths sums for a few days at once.
- You can even get workbooks (Maths, English etc.) and make your child do these - ready-made study material for your child. It will save you time preparing study material from the scratch yourself.
- If your child's textbooks are always kept at the school, you can even get duplicate textbooks (their school textbook, CBSE or/and ICSE textbooks) that you keep at home and make them practice using these.
Parents - relax and understand your child
- First of all, be relaxed, have fun in the process. Come on moms and dads, it is not all serious business or a stressful chore. All parents go through it. Time will fly and you will never have this time with them. Enjoy these times. Joke, laugh and keep the fun going as you sit with them. Remember that you can pass your stress to your child.
- Remember each child is different and do not try to impose your ambitions on your child. Be driven by your child’s interests and capabilities. Take cues from them. The idea is to make them realize their potential. It is not just how much they know but also their attitude towards learning and interest in learning that is important. You will be better able to make it relaxing and fun for them and something that is a part of their lives.
How to motivate them to study and get into the study habit?
- Gently encourage them. Try and avoid nagging, scolding or punishing them.
- Be patient and systematic. Especially when starting something new, start small and make the learning a step-by-step process. Some quick wins and the feeling of success from the start can really motivate them to put in their best.
- Keep the variety going. Try different subjects. it is also a good idea is to have both parents teach or sit with them from time to time. This will take the load off one parent and keep it fresh also for your child.
- Some other tips and tricks
- What about some fun new stationery?
- Some small gentle bribes from time to time - a bubble gum, an Enid Blyton - will also work.
- Try some soft soothing music to get them to relax while studying.
Great tips. I would like to add few more.
Select an appropriate time for homework. Some kids would prefer to do it in the morning when there is less distraction. some in the evening after some physical activities or both morning and evening splitting the homework. some kids prefer after dinner when they are relaxed. Try out different time and see when they are comfortable and choose the right time and follow it consistently.
While doing homework, encourage them to review their work. When they make mistakes, do not point out the exact mistake and say this answer is wrong. Instead they can be told to check for 2 errors. So they will get into the habit of reviewing their work.
Do not have too much of expectation and set a target. say, to complete 75 math problems. Let the child set the pace so that he/she will enjoy doing the homework and won't feel pressurized.