Study Habits that Help Your Child Succeed in School and Life

Creating good study habits is essential for success in school. In this article, we'll explore how to help your child create the actions that will serve him in school, college and throughout life.

First, let's define study habit. This is important because when people think about changing habits, they often feel that they don't have the willpower, but changing what you do or how you do it is not as difficult as you might think.

A habit is simply a behavior pattern that is repeated until it becomes automatic.

The word automatic implies that you perform the habit without thinking much about it. How can you change a habit, specifically a study habit? Substitute it with an action that is more effective and repeat it daily, until it becomes a habit. Study after study has shown that this takes 21 days.

Study habits are effective or ineffective depending upon whether or not they serve your child. Rather than labeling what your child does (or doesn't do) as good or bad (thereby giving the child something to rebel against) focus on whether the habit works for them or not. Study habits that serve the child create better grades, a better relationship with the teacher, a sense of competence and confidence.

When parents and teachers make the mistake of labeling study habits as "bad," the child may feel that they are impossible to change.

Before we look at how to create good study habits, let's look more closely at habits in general. Consider the habit of brushing your teeth—a life-affirming habit. If you brush your teeth, your gums stay clean and healthy and you prevent tooth decay. Understanding the "why" of a habit is important because all habits—even unhealthy ones—are started for a reason.

If you brush your teeth every night before you go to bed, then you do it automatically—you don't have to think about it. As parents, this is what we want to help our children do—create good study that start as a result of a conscious choice, but become automatic.

Creating Effective Study Habits:

  • Homework comes first. When my children come home from school, we talk about their day on the way home. Once inside the house, I offer them a snack (something nutritious to refuel) and they sit down and do their homework. This ensures that homework gets done before after-school sports, talking on the phone with friends, watching t.v. or surfing the web. Getting their homework done frees my boys to enjoy activities without unfinished homework looming over their heads.

  • Tackle the problem before you ask for help. Many parents make the mistake of doing their children's homework for them. This doesn't help your child learn how to struggle with challenging problems or achieve a sense of competence. When you teach your child how to do something, explain why it's important. For instance, proper spelling is essential to clear written communication. Reading is important to your child's success in life. When your child encounters a problem he cannot solve, rather than giving him the answer, teach him strategies for approaching it and show him step-by-step how to work it out. Ask questions at each step that are designed to help him learn to think and reason on his own.

  • Use available resources. Rather than giving your child the definition of a word, tell him to look it up in the dictionary. The act of looking up the word will help make the word a permanent part of his vocabulary. If you give him the definition, he will tend to forget it. Although it's important to share your knowledge, your role as a parent is to teach your child how to use all the resources that are available to him.

  • When your child has finished his homework, help him check over it for mistakes. When the job is done, rather than saying, "Good job!" ask him how he feels about what he's accomplished. This will help him focus on the inner sense of competence that comes from doing his best.

Following the tips above will help improve your child's study habits. If your child needs extra help in challenging subjects like math and science, click on the link for a program that will help improve your child's study habits in the subjects that most kids consider difficult.

Caring parents take action to help their children do well in school.

Sign up for our newsletter:

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Family Matters Parenting Magazine.


Copyright © 2006 by Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved. You may not copy this article in full or in part without the express written permission of the author, however, you may link to it from your web site, blog or forum or share the web address with a friend. study habits

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.