One of the most frustrating things about being a kid was feeling unprepared for taking tests at school. It seems no matter how much I studied, tried to review, or wanted to be ready, it never seemed to work or be enough for me. Once I had children of my own, I wanted test-taking to be more natural, effortless, and fluid for them in their pursuit of education. As parents, we want them to achieve academic success with good study skills. How can we, as parents, help to create great study habits and study skills for our children? What are some fundamental pointers we can teach, instill, and use as foundations that our kids can take advantage of from young children in elementary school to middle school, high school students to college, and beyond? Many students experience test anxiety, and it is a fundamental factor of mental health for kids. Let’s look at the top 10 ways that we can draw from to give our kids the best study methods and confidence to succeed by improving their test taking skills.
Top 10 Study Methods For Kids
Learning Begins In The Classroom - Explain to your child how vitally important it is for them to pay attention at school! As much help as you can provide as a parent is valuable, but your child's teacher is the first source of information that they need. If they have a hard time understanding, a phone call or email to their teacher could be an asset. There may be resources they can provide or point you to that can make all the difference in your child absorbing the information.
Emphasize that your child must take good notes in class, so we have something solid to build on as we study together at home.
Teach your child that it is perfectly okay to ask for help at school and home. Even the most outspoken, social child sometimes is afraid to ask for help when it comes to schoolwork. There is a lot of pressure to learn and achieve good grades, so some children think they are alone in the fact that they are having a hard time understanding something, that if they were smarter, they would have gotten it the first time, which we know is far from the truth. Everyone struggles with learning something, and the key is learning to speak up and out when they don’t understand the material. Odds are, they aren’t the only ones struggling to understand. Make sure you let them know that it is never wrong to ask teachers questions at school and ask you at home if they have difficulty figuring out what they are studying. Some of our most extraordinary knowledge comes on the other side of the struggle.
Make a home study schedule as soon as your child learns they have a test. This will help you to break down all the information that the test will cover, focusing on a different area to study each day leading up to the test. Studying a little bit each day doesn’t overwhelm your child and prevents last-minute “cramming,” which we all know is not a good recipe for test-taking success. Time management is crucial to practical study skills.
Make flash cards and practice tests to aid in your home study time. Flashcards will be a fun way to help your child learn the material they need to know, and it puts it almost like playing a game. It changes up the study routine, makes it fun, and gives them a visual aid to help them memorize the material. Once your child feels comfortable with the material, bring the flashcards or study terms to the dinner table and let everyone participate. It’s a great learning conversation to have as a family, helps them learn, and refreshes your knowledge of great subjects. Creating practice tests is another way to get them accustomed to being quizzed on the material, help them see what they know and what they still need to work on, and take away a lot of anxiety when the actual test day comes.
Designate a “study area” in your home, away from distractions, where your child knows when they sit down there, it’s time to go to work, study hard, learn, and prepare. A place where they are away from “high traffic areas” in your home, making sure siblings, pets, and television noise isn’t too prevalent. Keep their cell phones, laptops, and electronic devices far away from the study area, unless you need one to aid in study time. If that is the case, you might want to turn off cellular data or disable texts and chats so they can truly focus on studying.
Engage several of their senses when they study, more than just hearing and reading. Does their subject matter involve some food? Have that kind of food for dinner or snack, and talk about its relevance in what they are studying. Trying to memorize terms or multiplication tables? Make up a song and sing the words or numbers where they struggle the most. Take a ball and toss it to them when you have a question and make the rule that they can’t throw it back until they have the correct answer. There are hundreds of games and scenarios that you can use in your study time that brings interaction and involve more than just reading and regurgitating information. Fun, inventive ways to study will bring about a vast difference in how they view the material. Things meant for educational purposes can be fun; it just takes a little imagination and creativity.
They can come up with several strategies on test days to help them conquer the test with confidence. Encourage them to scan over the entire test and read all the directions first. Some kids do better if they start with what they consider the “hard part” first. Others find confidence doing the “easy parts” first then moving on to what seems more difficult. In your study time together, ask your child which methods make them feel most at ease; that way, when you present them with a practice test, they can see which options help them feel more confident for the actual test day.
The night before the test,make sure they have a healthy balanced meal, spend some good time in review (but not too much), let them play a game or watch a program they enjoy, and make sure they get to bed on time (or a few minutes early) for a good night's sleep, so they wake up well-rested. Getting enough sleep is crucial for students of all ages. Cramming the night before will only stress them out, and sleep deprivation won't help anyone do well on an exam. Go over the material but don’t try to overwhelm them with it.
The most important thing for your child to know is that you believe in them, you teach them that they can learn anything they set their mind to accomplish, hard work pays off, and that no matter the outcome, you love them unconditionally. Children that are loved, supported, and encouraged feel confident in themselves, and that confidence will take them far in life.
Learning Never Truly Ends
We have covered ten points to help your children study effectively for tests, but these are only ten out of HUNDREDS of good study tips, tricks, and breakthroughs for kids. Take the time to research and you will quickly find how much helpful, solid information there is available to help your kids and customize the study habits you adapt according to your child, their learning style, and their personality. You know them better than anyone, and you will know which methods will suit them best. Some will take trial and error. Don’t get frustrated if it takes a while to find a good study rhythm for your kids; we are all learning together. A consistent effort to help them study will lead to a positive upswing in your child's test scores and may even change their focus on school from negative to positive. Wouldn't all parents love to see the day report cards come out as an exciting day and not a dreaded one? Learning doesn’t end when school does; that’s when life’s knowledge begins! We never stop learning. Even as we age, each day brings new lessons and challenges, and being prepared makes that knowledge mean even more.
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