It can be extremely stressful for the entire family when a child struggles to complete their 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.
- Turn off all distractions!
Young people are now growing up in the world of technology and it can sometimes be very difficult 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!
- Establish a routine
In order 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.
- Have realistic expectations
As a parent, you must consider your child’s age and developmental level, ie don’t expect a 7-year old to be able to focus for a long period of time. 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.
- Designate specific areas for homework and studying
Choose a space in the house that can be a regular location for homework and studying, and make sure it is quiet for your child, without the distractions of other family members or the television. Keep study materials nearby and it will become a habit that when your child enters this space it is time to work.
- Organize study and homework projects
Help your child organise their assignments logically so that they do not get overwhelmed by the amount that they have to do. Create an exam study plan with them, and help them figure out what assignments need to be completed first. This ability to prioritise and organise tasks is vital for A-levels, university and beyond.
- 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 on their own. Young people need to develop the drive to complete the work independently, without a parent constantly pushing them.
- Studying is more than just doing homework assignments
It is important to instil in your child the desire to learn and understand the topics that they are studying, instead of just completing the tasks that are assigned to them. Encourage them to research the topic, read about it, ask questions, so that they grasp the whole concept instead of just the specific questions being asked.
- Help your child learn how to focus their mind
One of the hardest things to learn 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 getting distracted by their own thoughts, they can write them down and come back to them after they’ve finished studying.
- Use as much positive reinforcement as possible
Like all of us, young people want to hear that they are doing a good job and are able to do well in their upcoming test or exam. Whether it’s an actual reward, in the form of playtime or a treat, or simply encouraging words, it is so important to tell your child that you are proud of the effort they are making. They will in turn feel more confident and more driven to work harder.
- Find the right level of involvement in your child’s work.
There is a fine line between showing a keen interest in your child’s work and becoming a ‘helicopter parent’. If your child is clearly 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, then this is the time to hold back.
- Lead by example
If you make your child study while you yourself are watching tv, you can only expect your child to rebel. If you are not able to participate in your child’s work, then let your child see you working on something work-related or household-related. Young people are more likely to follow your actions than your advice!
- Try and find ‘fun’ ways for your child to study
If your child is really struggling to get engaged in their work, make an effort to help them try different approaches to studying, in the hope that something will grab their attention. Use flashcards, the internet or even friends (you have to be careful with this one!). Once your child finds something that works for them, it will be a tool they can use over and over again.
The GT Scholars programme helps ambitious young people improve their grades and build their confidence through a combination of tutoring sessions, mentoring sessions and enrichment days. To find out more, click here.