Throughout my career as a teacher, I have taught students from kindergarten to grade 7, and adults as well. Funny, even as a school teacher I taught children the same successful habits that I learned throughout my studies while obtaining two university degrees–habits that seem to work well at any age. Being an educator for over 23 years has taught me a lot about learning–good and bad habits.
Whether your child is getting ready for a grade one spelling test, or a first-year university psychology final, here are five great study habits every kid should know–and they all fit perfectly into the acronym: G.R.E.A.T.
Give yourself enough time to study.
Plan it. Schedule it. And start early. Plan a study block of time or study schedule so that you are only studying during those planned blocks and taking breaks when you are not. This helps you to avoid cramming.
How: Use a visual schedule to chunk your time into blocks, this gives you the ability to be productive instead of worrying about all the things you need to do. Plus, you know that there is a start and end to each task. It takes away the anxiety and helps you plan out your studying.
Rest up with enough sleep.
When your child sleeps well, it helps them to process the information they learned that day. Studying before going to sleep has been a proven way to retain more information, so the trick is to study before you go to sleep.
Research has proven that sleep helps to retain the memories we form throughout the day. And conversely, being awake disrupts the processing of memories and causes us to forget some of what we’ve memorized or learned. Therefore, avoid pulling all-nighters.
Exercise has a great effect on thinking, memory, comprehension and reasoning.
When we exercise, it activates our sympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system or brain that helps your body deal with stress. Your brain in response fills with extra blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, which then helps you to make big important decisions!
Also, the part of your brain called the hippocampus is stimulated during exercise. This part of the brain is important for reasoning and memory. So, exercise helps in the short-term by improving cognition (thinking and memory), and long-term regular exercise can actually slow the aging process (or shrinking) of the hippocampus–hugely important!
Exercise is also a great stress-reducer. The bottom line is that exercise increases blood flow in your brain and this directly relates to how well you retain information. The blood flow helps improve concentration and memory is triggered more effectively too.
How: Right before a test, take a brisk walk around the block, or do 30 jumping jacks. The blood flow will help your brain to work much better during the test. Studying after sports practice is a good idea too.
Arrange a study area, with easy access to supplies, in a quiet space.
Set up a place that is uncluttered, if possible, a regular study spot that has a desk with bright light. Research shows that the brighter it is, the more focused and alert you will be when studying. Have a plant. Studies show that a plant in the room will increase your productivity by 15%.
Take breaks and reward yourself at the end of each study block.
Have you ever felt like you were reading the same paragraph over and over again but not absorbing what you were reading? We have all done it. When you break up long study sessions you will actually help your focus.
Research shows that when people try to focus on a single task for a long period of time, concentration lessens, and minds start to wander. Having a visual reward (a reward like a treat after each chapter you read) has been proven to increase motivation.
How: When you are studying, take short breaks of about 5 minutes. This will help you regain focus and study more effectively. Reward yourself by placing a treat on your desk for when you complete the study block of time. (ie: a piece of dark chocolate or any healthy brain snack).
Try one or two or all five of these habits and this year will be a much better learning experience for sure!