Teachers work hard to accommodate every student in the classroom and their specific learning techniques. As important as it is to teach information, effectively teaching study skills to your class can make or break your students’ academic performance. Here are some tips tested by teachers and students alike to improve study habits:
Students often have a hard time prioritizing between a fun activity and a necessary one, especially at younger ages. Ask your class how they prioritize, and guide a group discussion about their responses. Create an example list of priorities and work as a class to rank the list in order of importance. Here’s an example:
- Watching TV
- Playing with friends
- Walking the dog
- Doing chores at home
- Finishing homework
- Playing video games
This will teach them to separate what they want to spend time doing versus what they need to do, and can help them organize what to learn first when studying.
The next step is organizing their goals. When applying this concept to studying, it can be as simple as organizing deadlines for their assignments, projects, or tests and helping students break down large learning concepts into smaller, bite-sized pieces they can grasp in one study session.
Help students set deadlines for each piece of the puzzle. If they have a three-page essay due next week, encourage them to break it down into parts:
- Writing a draft
- Fleshing out the body
- And writing the introduction/conclusion
Schedule each portion of the task for a different evening at home and it will help them manage their stress about a big assignment – and they’ll be done with it before they know it!
After organizing, it’s important to teach your class how to manage time so they can achieve the goals they have set. Have students take the list they made in the previous activity and estimate how long they think each small task will take:
- Research might take an hour.
- Writing the draft will take another hour.
- Fleshing out the body will take 45 minutes because they are building on the draft they have already created.
Encourage them to keep their lists beside them as they study, and to track themselves to make sure they stay on schedule.
Taking study breaks is often overlooked when planning out time, and this can add large amounts of stress as a result. During my time in undergrad, I often blocked out small rewards for myself to enjoy once I finished a portion of my task. More often than not, they included snacks, but they also involved watching short portions of my favorite show on Netflix or going for a walk. As simple as these rewards were, they worked to motivate me to finish my task as well as renewing my energy to continue.
The Pomodoro Technique is a helpful tool that follows a similar concept. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s the breakdown:
- Choose a task you want to complete
- Work on that task for 25 minutes – no more and no less!
Teach your students how to use it during their own study time at home to break up the monotony and keep their brains fresh and bodies moving.
Set the Stage + Get Started!
Equipped with a list of priorities, time breakdowns, and the knowledge of helpful study techniques, your students are ready to get down to business. But if they don’t have a quiet space at home, or they’re hungry, or their siblings are playing video games straight away after school – their study session is going to be full of distractions.
Encourage them to set themselves up for success when studying by minimizing distractions. Find a quiet study space, whether it be a library or even just their bedroom. Bring healthy snacks to munch on to keep hunger at bay. Listen to soothing music, or shut the door to block out distracting noises from friends and family. All that’s left to do is simply to get started!
Vanessa Baioni is an intern for the K-12 Marketing team.