These days, it is normal for children to struggle with schoolwork or studies in general. In most cases, it’s usually just a phase that children go through.
However, young minds are easily influenced and taught. If you teach your child to build healthy study habits, they will likely carry this until they go into university.
As the new academic year begins, it is your role as a parent to encourage studying and ease them back into the routine of learning.
Below are 6 ways to develop your child’s study habits and self-motivation.
1) Set a Designated Place For Studying
It is important to remember to create a conducive study space for your child. Depending on your situation at home, this may or may not be something that is easily attainable.
Allocating a study desk for your child is critical to their ability to study effectively. The space should foster productivity, and should be free of distractions.
An ideal area would be somewhere that is facing the wall rather than a window. This way, your child can avoid gazing out the window, or watching people as they walk by.
To avoid eye strain and headaches, your child’s study area should have sufficient lighting. This could be from a natural source, or a desk light.
Most importantly, put it somewhere quiet. It should be away from the TV or iPad, or from any noise from family members or pets.
2) Stick to a Schedule
Create a schedule for your child and remind them to follow it regularly.
It’s completely understandable if your child finds it hard to follow at first. With enough guidance from you, however, they will eventually start building the discipline to keep to the schedule without your reminders.
Giving them a routine will teach them time management — a crucial, life-long skill that every child should learn! If done consistently, they will continue keeping to a study schedule through secondary school, or even JC and university.
Having said that, making them study for hours on end is counterproductive - it is important to provide breaks in between periods of study.
Instead, plan for them to study in block periods with short 10-20 minute breaks between blocks.
The short breaks should be scheduled, too. During the break, make them move around or even take naps if they need to re-energise themselves.
3) Begin with Difficult Subjects First
Children will almost always naturally begin with the easy and fun subjects, or the topics they like.
However, you should teach them to start working on the most difficult topics or subjects first.
This is because it is easier to study the difficult, more demanding subjects when your child has a clear and fresh mind. Otherwise, they will struggle with depleted energy, trying to figure out complex problems.
On one hand, light subjects (or ones they naturally enjoy) do not require as much energy and thinking. So even if they put these last in their list, they can still coast through them relatively easily.
4) You Can’t Help With Homework Anymore
Try your best to remember that you shouldn’t help with homework anymore. This doesn’t mean completely ignoring your child and leaving them alone with their schoolwork, though.
Sure, you can still guide, inspire, review work, and teach — but you can’t do the thinking for them. Physically doing their homework for them or heavily hinting at answers will not be helpful for your child in the long run.
They need to feel empowered by the fact that the work they have accomplished came from their own effort. This will teach them independence and self-learning skills.
Let them know you’ll be there to help if they run into any difficulties, but for the most part let them tackle their school work on their own.
Remember, the younger they learn how to manage their own work, the sooner they can learn to be self-reliant!
5) Homework Doesn’t Have To Be Boring
The main reason why children avoid homework as much as possible is because they feel like it’s such a chore to do. Most of the time, they aren’t interested in the topics covered.
This is mainly due to the fact that they can’t understand why they may need to know this information in their daily lives.
So what can you do about it?
You can start by incorporating their homework to real-life situations.
For example, if they have homework on the topic of electricity, take them to the Science Centre during the weekend. Talk about their homework and find exhibits that are related to the same topic.
Continuously show your child that what they’re learning is directly applicable to real life. This will definitely pique their interest in the topic or subject.
Tapping on your child’s innate curiosity to learn about the world around them will help them grow into a self-driven learner.
6) Use the When-Then Routine
“When you’ve finished your homework, then you can play outside.”
Technically, this is not a bribe, like buying them the latest gadget.
‘Then’ is something that is part of their daily schedule. So it could be anything, from playing outside to watching their favourite show.
This teaches them to prioritise. In order to do what they want, they have to accomplish something they have to do first. Make this a routine so they know what to expect.
Moreover, you can opt for this routine instead of rewarding them every time they complete a task.
That technique focuses on short-term motivation (and possibly entitlement) by providing your child incentives. Whereas the when-then routine will train them to prioritise their tasks without always looking forward to a tangible reward after.
Conclusion: Raise Lifelong Learners
As a parent, it is important to build the right habits so your child can become an effective lifelong learner.
There are a lot of techniques, resources and support available for you out there to instill that precious mindset.
Outside of the classroom, teachers are the greatest support you can ever have.
At PAL Learning, our teachers are equipped with skills to groom your child to become an effective learner, building key habits that they'll need to excel in school.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child become a self-motivated, driven learner today.