12 tips to help young people build homework and study habits

12 tips to help young people build homework and study habits

It can be highly stressful for the entire family when a child struggles to complete homework or study for an exam. Fortunately, it does not have to be this way. Here are some tips to help you and your child successfully build productive habits that will benefit your child now and in the future.

1. Turn off all distractions!

Young people are now growing up in the world of technology, and it can sometimes be tough to escape it. When the TV is on, or they’re constantly checking their phone, it is impossible to concentrate fully on their work. So unless the computer is necessary for the task, turn off the electronics!

2. Establish a routine

To create a habit, it is necessary to repeat the task habitually. Parents try and serve dinner at the same time every night so that the young people know when that is and can build a homework schedule around that. If the schedule changes from night to night, it will become easier to forget to do something as it is not ingrained in the daily routine.

3. Have realistic expectations

As a parent, you must consider your child’s age and developmental level, i.e. don’t expect a 7-year-old to be able to focus for an extended period. Encourage them to take breaks, perhaps after completing a homework section and encourage them to learn what their capabilities are in terms of their concentration span.

4. Designate specific areas for homework and studying

Choose a space in the house that can be a regular location for reading and learning, and make sure it is quiet for your child, without the distractions of other family members or the television. Keep study materials nearby; it will become a habit that when your child enters this space, it is time to work.

5. Organise study and homework projects

Help your child organise their assignments logically so they do not get overwhelmed by the amount they have to do. Create an exam study plan with them, and help them determine what assignments must be completed first. This ability to prioritise and organise tasks is vital for A-levels, university and beyond.

6. Encourage your child to be responsible and work independently

Support your child in their homework, but do not be the taskmaster. Provide them with the tools they need to succeed – a quiet area, supplies, words of encouragement – but then allow them to do the work independently. Young people must develop the drive to complete the work alone, without a parent constantly pushing them.

7. Studying is more than just doing homework assignments

It is important to instil in your child the desire to learn and understand the topics they are studying instead of just completing the assigned tasks. Encourage them to research the case, read about it, and ask questions to grasp the whole concept instead of just the specific questions being asked.

8. Help your child learn how to focus their mind

One of the hardest things to know how to do, for adults and young people alike, is to focus on the task at hand and be able to shut out distractions, worries or other thoughts. Encourage your child to keep a ‘worry pad’ – if they are prone to get distracted by their thoughts, they can write them down and return to them after they’ve finished studying.

9. Use as much positive reinforcement as possible

Like all of us, young people want to hear that they are doing a good job and can do well in their upcoming tests or exam. Whether it’s an actual reward, in the form of playtime or a treat, or simply encouraging words, it is important to tell your child that you are proud of their effort. They will, in turn, feel more confident and driven to work harder.

10. Find the right level of involvement in your child’s work.

A fine line exists between showing a keen interest in your child’s work and becoming a ‘helicopter parent’. If your child is struggling with their studying or needs someone to ask them questions, then absolutely step in and help. If they just want you to finish their homework so it’s out of the way, this is the time to hold back.

11. Lead by example

Young people are more likely to follow your actions than your advice! If you make your child study while watching tv, you can only expect your child to rebel. If you cannot participate in your child’s work, let your child see you working on something work-related or household-related.

12. Try and find ‘fun’ ways for your child to study

If your child is struggling to get engaged in their work, make an effort to help them try different approaches to learning in the hope that something will grab their attention. Use flashcards, the internet or even friends (you must be careful with this!). Once your child finds something that works for them, it will be a tool they can use repeatedly.

The GT Scholars programme helps ambitious young people improve their grades and build their confidence through tutoring sessions, mentoring sessions and enrichment days. To find out more, click here.

Kate Lacey