How to Develop Good Study Habits in Children
Most parents are keen to help their children develop good habits for life. So here are some tips from a few experts on why good study habits are important and how you can help your child develop them.
What is a study habit?
A habit is something we learn to do automatically, without thinking about it too much or being prompted by others. Good study habits include having a regular and realistic routine, deciding what and how to study, using the time effectively and recognising when you need to seek help.
The difference between homework and study
As the name suggests, homework refers to specific tasks that are set by your child’s school to be completed outside school hours. The amount of homework that’s set can range from nothing to several hours a night. It will depend on your child’s age and their school’s homework policy. Study is less specific; it’s more about the independent time and effort your child puts into life-long learning to realise their full potential.
Discuss the reasons for homework and study
One of the first things you can do is talk with your child about the benefits of homework and study. Try to focus on what’s in it for them, rather than it being a chore they have to complete for others.
The purpose of set homework can be to prepare for a topic that’s about to be taught, to practice skills and explore concepts that are currently being taught, or to revisit topics taught earlier to lock in the learning. Homework can also help a teacher to check how much your child already understands or whether they have mastered recently taught concepts.
Independent study, beyond set homework, is recognised as a valuable and rewarding life skill. It can involve identifying and addressing learning gaps, satisfying curiosity, building confidence or extending understanding and abilities in areas of particular interest.
If your child is to develop good study habits for life, it’s important that they own the process, effort and rewards. Many experts recommend letting your child make the decisions by providing them with choices, rather than instructions. The choices still convey your expectations, but allow your child to discuss and decide how they can be met.
Create a study timetable
The best way to develop a good habit is to create a regular routine and stick to it. Talk with your school about how much time your child is expected to spend on homework. Now discuss with your child how much extra time they’d like to put into study they choose. The next step is to create a weekly timetable of activities and help your child allocate regular time slots for homework and study. Remember to be realistic about concentration times. For littlies, 15 minutes is usually the maximum. Older children and teenagers should take a short break at least every hour, preferably for something that involves exercise, such as a walk or kicking a ball around. Help them with organisation skills, including breaking larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. If a particularly important event clashes with set homework or study time, encourage your child to reallocate that time before they agree to participate.
Create a distraction-free study space
Help your child to identify things that might distract them from what they want to achieve and discuss ways they could remove the distractions. Experts agree that having a specific study place - with a good-sized surface area, stationery, lighting and comfortable seating - has a positive effect.
Always use the time for something
Even if your child has no homework, to develop the desired habit the allocated time should be used for self-selected study or having fun together with reading, writing and maths.
Praise and reward the effort
Studies have shown that when children are recognised and praised for the effort they put in, rather than what they are ‘good at’, they are much more likely to become confident and high-achieving life-long learners. We published an earlier blog about this approach, which is known as developing a growth mindset[WJ1] .
Model the desired behaviours
Finally, try to ensure your child sees your good study habits in action. You could bring some work home to do at the same time, tackle some household administration tasks or simply spend the time researching an area of interest. This approach also means you’ll be on hand to help with the study if required.
How we can help
If you’re considering after-school tutoring for English or maths, or need help with planning revision and practising exams, come and see us at NumberWorks’nWords. We offer a free no-obligation assessment and you can try a free lesson with one of our tutors. Whether you choose to continue with us or not, we’ll discuss the results with you and explain how we would address any learning gaps you may have. Book a free assessment today