By Brian Oshiro
Summer will be here before you know it. Students can almost smell the chlorine of the swimming pool wafting through the barbeque-laden air, while parents are scrambling to find that perfect summer opportunity for their children. But before Junior can act on any more plots to sink his sister with that perfect cannonball, we are reminded that there are still three very important months left in the school year.
For elementary and secondary school students, the goals of these final few months are significantly different. While secondary students are starting to feel the pressures of standardized exams, elementary school students are making that final push in a yearlong marathon that requires them to build both endurance and discipline in their approach to studying.
So what can students do to maximize study time?
Elementary students are still learning to define what good study habits are. Parents cannot expect students to have good study habits without teaching their children first. Thus, parents should try as much as possible to set good examples for their children by involving themselves in the study process.
Dedicate a study place and time: If your child doesn’t already have one, designate a specific study spot. Set a study time and, more importantly, stick to it. Parents should also be sure to respect study time by creating an environment with minimal disturbance.
Review study goals: Parents should discuss with students what they plan to accomplish during their study time. Once students complete their study session, they should be able to recite everything that they have learned. Create an incentive program to reward your child for setting and achieving goals.
Be a model: Model good habits by showing what it means to take a task from beginning to end. Involve your child in one of your projects, like planning a shopping trip, or paying bills.
Secondary school students should start building good habits that will serve them well in college. These students should:
Review Before Studying: Students should spend the first 30 minutes reflecting on their day and setting a study game plan. By reviewing what they have learned first, students can get a sense of what they already know and what they still need to work on. If they can’t re-tell themselves what they learned in physics that day, then they will need to devote more time reviewing that subject.
Take meaningful, regular breaks: Even the most disciplined students can zone out from time to time. Encourage students to recharge their batteries every 45 minutes by taking a 10-minute break before resuming their studies. Once the break is over, students should summarize what they’ve been studying over the past hour. This self-test gives the student a sense of what they’ve mastered and what they still need to review.
Do difficult assignments first: Assess which task will require the most time and energy. Prioritize the more difficult tasks for the beginning when a student has more mental fortitude to focus.
Chunk big tasks: Projects or paper writing can be overwhelming when viewed as one large task. Students should think about ‘chunking’ a big project into a series of smaller tasks, checking off each task as it is completed.
With Spring Festival now behind us, it’s time for students to make the final push for a successful finish to the school year. Implementing these study tips will not only help students gain the most from their studies, they will also ensure that students set and develop good habits for college and beyond.
// This column is sponsored by New Pathway Education, www.npathway.com. Brian Oshiro is New Pathway’s Head of Academy. He has 12 years of teaching experience.