By Guest Blogger Suzy Fielders
It’s that time of year for students… No, I’m not talking about the fun-filled Spring Break time we are currently enjoying, but rather the going into the end of year crunch these next couple months. You know that time most of us parents don’t like to think about that hosts the many in class tests and end of year tests and brings chaos, stress and in some cases tears. In the spirit of that not so lovely thought, I figured it’d be a perfect time to look into some good study tips and ways to beat that stress by researching & writing this blog to help other fellow parents during this time too.
I wanted to share some of my own personal experience as well as some tips from people that are a little more ‘expert’ in the field. Those ‘experts’ I interviewed include: Sandy Harper (who was a tutor for over a decade at Sylvan Learning Center), Crystal Cherry-Smith (the Education Specialist at AlphaBest (an educational after school program) & 4th grade teacher) and Gina Webster (a School Library Media Coordinator in the Forsyth County School System). Thanks so much to these ladies for providing this awesome information!
When I started my initial research and ideas for this blog I of course thought of my own daughter (who is currently 9 years old and in the 3rd grade) and how she studies for tests. Although this made me realize I did not recall helping her study at all this school year for a test! So after recovering from realizing I need the worst parent of the year award (didn’t I mention something about there being tears… !), I also realized she makes awesome grades so got lucky with my independent studier.
Of course realizing she makes good grades and studies independently, I thought why not ask her what she thinks helps her most in preparing for tests, she strongly advocated repetition. Whether that was continuously practicing math problems or reviewing flash cards, seeing it many times seemed to be a given for her studying. Going off that tip let me repeat again, repetition is very important in studying!
Now that I shared our lovely study tips story that launched this blog, let me get into the real tips that I hope each of you can make use of with your kids while studying for these last couple months of school.
Set a Study Place & Time
All three ladies gave this tip so it must be a very important one! Gina shares on a setting up a study space, “Think about designing an area that is comfortable and stocked with helpful study & school supplies.” Sandy shares the importance of setting a routine study time, “Usually there is less of study aversion if there is a specific time set and it’s not a surprise.”
Have a Routine
Crystal shares this great tip on getting ready to study, “Set a routine you follow before you study. Maybe you go to your study space with a favorite snack or drink each time you study. Or maybe you do a little tidying up in your area before you study. Having a routine makes it a habit and puts you in the correct mind frame before you get started.”
Determine Learning Type
As most parents already know, every child is different and that would also include how they learn. It’s crucial to know how your child learns in order to help them study. Sandy shares, “Knowing if your child learns best through visual, auditory or tactical (hands on) styles goes a long way in helping them study.” She also shares that “There are many free quizzes online to help determine a learning style. One example can be found HERE.
I love this idea that Gina shared that is more a pre-cursor to studying. “Have learning talks with your child to be able to access if they seem comfortable with new material and topics. For example, ask questions such as ‘Tell me about the activity you did to learn about earthquakes?’ or ‘Did you learn something that surprised you about the American Revolution?’ Asking these questions beforehand can help you gauge where your child is on the subject and aid even more in their studying on those topics.
Help your child learn how to actually take notes. While it seems like a simple and obvious notion, Sandy shared that “When tutoring all age groups I found the majority of kids did not know how to take proper notes. They often would write down everything word for word so ended up wasting time just writing and reading versus actually studying.” There are tons of free online resources with tips to go over with your kids on note taking but here are two that I found that provide solid tips & ideas on note taking – HERE and HERE.
Make it Fun
Crystal shares it’s important to make studying fun. For example, she said “parents can use music, rhymes, and games to practice skills and remember important vocabulary.” This is not just true for little kids either, as if it’s enjoyable any person will be more likely to remember and ace that material on the test.
This tip is for students/children themselves, and I really think it’s crucial that they know this. Gina states, “Coach your child to not be shy about asking questions. Students, as you’re learning new material in any class, take note of ideas, skills or concepts that you don’t quite understand after a teacher completes a lesson. Try to be specific when asking a teacher questions. If you’re working with a tutor, bring questions, math problems, an assignment/work in progress so the tutor can help within a real learning context.”
Prepare for Test Day
The final words of advice for studying, is actually getting ready for test day. Gina’s advice is to “Prepare for test days like an athlete. Get plenty of rest and eat nutritional foods. Think positive thoughts and try to not get sidetracked mentally or emotionally on a test day. Stay focused on doing your best and taking full advantage of the time given to complete the test.”