It’s May in my 8th grade class and I am giving the kids time to review for their up-coming French final. I am absolutely puzzled: Most kids are just sitting there, looking at their books, notes or old papers. They sit and swing on their chairs, spend one minute on each page and after ten minutes are at a loss as to what to do. They’re done! They’ve just read through the latest lessons and they’re ready.

Of course, when I ask them two questions, no-one can answer! So I tell them to go back to work and this time to get some blank paper out and to write notes, quiz themselves, challenge their knowledge with the book closed and check their answers. I watch a few look for their paper and stare blankly at it for a minute before writing a few words down, then hiding them, whispering something and starting again with a new list of words. In the end, I realize that this is wasted time and that I have to lead the review session myself, or better still, spend several hours teaching them study skills, because if I don’t, how are they going to prepare at home?

How can kids come out of elementary school not knowing how to study? Even very basic study skills seem to have been completely bypassed by the school system. The expectations that teachers have from pre-teens and teens are completely out of line with the reality. Teachers expect kids to have a certain level of independence and understanding as far as effective studying goes. Kids struggle with their homework not because it is difficult but because of the amount of time they end up wasting on it out of lack of study skills.

This starts with organization and time management. Teachers don’t give too much homework. What happens is that most kids procrastinate. If a teacher gives three weeks to complete a project, it means that kids need to start working on it as soon as possible and use the time imparted. If they wait until two days before to do it, the final project is bound to be mediocre. Such a project, worked on ten minutes every day will be greatly rewarded. This is a simple organization tip, which makes a world of difference. When teachers give projects, they are not just training kids on that particular topic but also on the realization of it, including time management and organization.

The great benefit of knowing how to organize homework and manage the time they have is that kids will be able to make the most of the free time they have. When your kids start their homework on Friday evening and don’t finish it until Sunday night, they can’t completely relax during their free time because they have this Damocles Sword called homework hanging over them. Even their best friend’s birthday party might be spoiled because their mind won’t really be into it. If they know how to manage their time and work more effectively, they will be able to complete all their work sooner and have a truly relaxing time.

Good study skills need to be taught early and should not be learned the hard way in middle school or high school. As parents, you have to help your kids. Start early with them and if you are not sure, communicate with the teachers and ask for advice. Keep on top of things and know what and when work is due to monitor progress. If you manage to have your kids capable of working independently and effectively as soon as they start middle school, excellent results are guaranteed until they graduate.

There’s a lot more to say on this topic and on more specific study skills, but I’ll get into it next time.

Author's Bio: 

Florence Bernard, Parental Consultant - Educational Liaison
+1-954-903-0655 - fbernard@betteratschool.com
After 17 years in education, Florence Bernard wants to share insider’s information with parents and kids about what education didn't teach you about education. She offers coaching services and various resources on her website. Start Self-Development with your kids NOW and see their results soar at school.
www.betteratschool.com