One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to help your child develop good study habits from an early stage. So many distractions have come with the digital age and as parents, you need to help your kids stay focused.
In fairness, technology cannot be totally separated from your child’s life. It has its own advantages. Chances are, your child is using a computer or tablet as a part of classroom instruction, and many devices like televisions, phones, e-readers, or game pads at home. With access to so many devices in their day-to-day life, it can be a struggle for your child to navigate the digital age on their own. If this issue is challenging for adults, imagine how difficult it could be for kids.
Technology has caused bad study habits
Does this scene sound familiar? Your child goes up to her room to complete her homework—perhaps on a school-issued iPad. Three hours later, she isn’t finished. You are left to wonder why. Was she perhaps chatting or video calling with her friends? Maybe it even started out about the homework, but then she got pulled into other topics. Was she listening to music and “had” to make a new playlist? Did she get distracted by someone’s post on Instagram and feel she was missing out on a social “hangout” that very instant? Or was she just “old school” daydreaming and not focusing?
These little things come together to form bad study habits if done repeatedly. This can lead to poor concentration, poor grades and ultimately low self-esteem.
What can you do to help your children have good study habits?
- Accept the computer as a necessary distraction. So much homework and study materials are online now. You won’t be able to avoid the distraction of the computer. It’s either you sit with your child or check in with them frequently to make sure they’re not on social media or browsing the Internet when they should be studying. You can also set up software to limit their internet access and avoid distraction.
- Do your own work in the space with your child. If you’re watching TV while your child is studying, that’s only going to make them jealous and distracted. Teach them by example. Sit down next to your child and work on something while they study. Finish your work, write a grocery list, or pay bills in their study space while they’re working. This will keep them from feeling alone. For example, if your child is studying at the kitchen table, sit down next to them. Work on a task of your own. Seeing you focused on your tasks is also a great way to model good behavior for your child.
- Make specific study goals. At the beginning of the school year, sit with your child and write down three to five goals related to their schoolwork and study habits. Halfway through and again at the end of the year, look at your list and check your progress. Your child’s goals can be related to their study habits, or to doing well on a particular assignment. These goals can be things like: “Learn to take more effective notes,” “Improve my grades in Science” or “Read a chapter book on my own.”
- Set a study schedule to create a routine. Pick a few hours each day that can be dedicated to studying and doing homework. Stick to this time as best you can, as keeping to a routine will help your child learn to set aside time for these tasks on their own as they get older. If the study schedule can’t be the same from day to day, keep it constant from week to week. This way, your weekly routine is stable and recognizable for your child. Break study time up into a few blocks of 1-2 hours if necessary. One block can occur right after school, and then another right after dinner.
- Pick a spot away from the television or any other kind of screens. Eliminate all the distractions you can, starting with the TV and/or screens. Turn the screens off when study time begins and make this a consistent rule. It’s loud and colorful, and there’s no way your child can study well in front of it. Help your child find a place to work in a room without a TV. For younger kids who might still need lots of help from parents, try the kitchen or dining room table. Older children might prefer to study alone at a desk in their room, so resist their requests to put a TV in their bedroom. You could also block other sites like YouTube till they finish their homework.
- Set up rules for everyone’s cell phones. During study time, everyone in the house should put their phones on silent and limit their screen time. Modelling this behavior for younger children is especially important, as they’ll feel like they’re part of a team effort. If you have older and younger children in the same house, ask older children to put their phones on silent and not check them till they finish their work.
While technology is a tough topic to tackle, it is a very large part of our lives. Learning smart habits about technology use now will help children as they grow up and self-monitor themselves. It’s never too early or too late to start the conversation about good study habits with your child. It takes a bit of time and, with practice, becomes easier to accomplish.