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Tips For Helping Teens With Homework and Study Habits

Certain key practices will make life easier for everyone in the family when it comes to study time and study organization. However, some of them may require an adjustment for other members of the family.

Turn off the TV set. Make a house rule, depending on the location of the set, that when it is study time, it is “no TV time.” A television set that is on will teens like bees to honey.

What about the radio? Should it be on or off? Contrary to what many specialists say, some youngsters do seem to function all right with the radio turned on to a favorite music station. (Depending on the layout of your house or apartment, maybe an investment in earphones would be worthy of consideration.)

Certain rules should be set about the family phone during study hours. The more people in the household, the more restrictions on long and unnecessary phone calls are needed. A timer, placed next to the phone, can help to control the length of calls so that the telephone will be available if it becomes necessary to call a schoolmate to confirm an assignment or discuss particularly difficult homework.

Designate specific areas for homework and studying. Possibilities include the child’s room or the kitchen or dining room table. Eliminate as much distraction as possible.

Since many young people will study in their own rooms, function becomes more important than beauty. Most desks for young people don’t have sufficient space to spread out materials. A table that allows for all necessary supplies such as pencils, pens, paper, books, and other essentials works extremely well.

Encourage the use of the student planner or other book for writing down assignments so that there is no confusion about when certain assignments must be turned in to the teacher.

Keeping general supplies on hand is important. Check with your child about his needs. In fact, make it his responsibility to be well supplied with paper, pencils, note pads, notebook paper, etc.

Routine is a key factor in academic success. Try to organize the house hold so that dinner is served at a standard time, and once it and family discussions are over, it’s time to crack the books. If the student doesn’t have other commitments and gets home reasonably early from school, some homework can be done before dinner.

Consider your child personally when setting the amount of time for homework. While one student may be able to focus for over an hour, another may not last more than 30 minutes on a single task. Allow your child to take breaks, perhaps as a reward for finishing a section of the work.

Organize study and homework projects. Get a large calendar, one that allows space for jotting down things in the daily boxes. Rip it apart so that you (and the child) can sequentially mount the school months for the current semester. For example, you can tear off September, October, November, December, and January and mount them from left to right across one wall. Have the child use a bold color writing instrument (felt tip pen) to mark exam dates in one color, reports that are coming due in a different color, etc. This will serve as a reminder so that things aren’t set aside until the last dangerous moment.

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 assignments. Encourage your child to do things like:

  • Take notes as he is reading a chapter.
  • Learn to skim material.
  • Learn to study tables and charts.
  • Learn to summarize what he has read in his own words.
  • Learn to make his own flashcards for quick review of dates, formulas, spelling words, etc.

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. Others have wisely realized the value of an outline form note-taking.

Should notes ever be rewritten? In some cases, they should be, particularly if a lot of material was covered, and the student had to write quickly but lacks speed and organization. Rewriting notes takes time, but it can be an excellent review of the subject matter. However, rewriting notes isn’t worth the time unless they are used for review and recall of important information.

A home dictionary is essential, but if it is kept on a shelf to gather dust, it won’t do anyone any good. Keep it in an accessible place and let your child see you refer to it from time to time. If the family dictionary is kept in the living room and the child studies in his room, get him an inexpensive dictionary of his own.

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. It is better to get a good night’s sleep. Students also need reminding that when taking a test, they should thoroughly and carefully read the directions before they haphazardly start to mark their test papers. Good advice for any student before taking a test is to take a deep breath, relax and dive in and always take an extra pencil just in case.

Watch for signs of frustration. No learning can take place and little can be accomplished if the child is angry or upset over an assignment that is too long or too difficult.

Should parents help with homework? Yes, if it is clearly productive to do so. No, if it is something that the child can clearly handle himself and learn from the process. Help and support should always be calmly and cheerfully given.

Read directions, or check over math problems after your child has completed the work. Remember to make positive comments; you don’t want your child to associate homework with fights at home.

How best to handle students’ progress and grades? To save shocks and upsets, discuss how things are going at school with your child. Utilize GoEduStar and communicate with your child’s teachers through email of phone.