Parent-Student Study Skill Suggestions

By Eileen Dykstra

FOR STARTERS!!!

- Parents and students should read the handbook together!! In this way both are aware and informed of school regulations and expectations. Avoid problems before they surface! - Parents should make themselves visible early in the school year to teachers... at an open house, or through some other means that is offered by the school. As parents we sometimes tend to lose interest in the academics of our children as they move up through the system into the higher grades. But high school as well as elementary teachers want to meet concerned and interested parents at scheduled open houses and parent-teacher conferences. These opportunities are beneficial not only for the teachers, but also for the parents!

TALK!!!

Ask your child about his courses. And be specific! Questions such as, "Did you learn anything that you didn’t already know in History today?" or "What period of History are you studying right now?" And if you’re interested in what grade your child is earning, you might ask: "What’s the highest grade you’ve earned so far in the last 9 weeks in History?" Don’t forget to follow up with-"What’s the lowest grade you’ve earned so far?" And please don’t respond with "Well, History really wasn’t one of my favorite courses either!" Junior might just use that as an easy excuse for his own disinterest!

EMPHASIZE!!!

It’s so important for parents to show their support of teachers and school by emphasizing the importance of education, hard work, discipline, and responsibility. Learning, just like a future job, is not always fun and entertaining. As adults we have learned that daily work is not always exciting and rewarding. Now our students have to learn those lessons. Education doesn’t always offer immediate gratification. Remind your child that this is another way teachers prepare him for life after his school years.

STRESS!!!

Please help teachers stress the value of a good attendance record!!! Regular attendance is extremely important and is essential for successful academic progress. Long absences or irregular attendance often cause scholastic difficulty and/or failure. Students with poor attendance records often have workloads to make up that appear overwhelming to them. Fellow classmates may become frustrated because teachers can’t return tests until the absent student makes up his work. And teachers find their work load increased by students who are consistently absent. Students should be aware that college admission offices and future employers carefully evaluate attendance records. On a more practical note, parents, figure out how much it costs to send your child to school on a daily basis! An absent student is not giving you your "money’s worth!"

ATTITUDE!!!

Be enthusiastic about your child’s courses. Be encouraging when he is either "up" or "down" about a facet of school life, whether it be social or academic. And be energetic yourself about your own daily activities. Your child will find your attitude "catching." Does your child see your reading a good book, or discussing academic, political, or religious issues? And no groans, please, about school! Remember, "The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!"

Now permit just a word of caution before reading the following list of specifics. Parents, avoid the trap of becoming TOO involved in your high schooler’s homework. No longer is your child being spoon-fed his learning material. As high school teachers we are trying to teach him responsibility for his OWN work. The high school student should take ownership of his own learning. We see many students (sometimes too many) who work long hours at outside jobs and who are entrusted with ownership of automobiles worth thousands of dollars! Doesn’t it follow that our students certainly should be responsible for their own schoolwork’? During high school years we should NOT chase them to their lockers to make sure they are being productive. Parents and teachers alike have to work to make high school students accountable for their own work. A weaning process should be taking place. Gone are the days for high schoolers when penmanship and spelling papers are displayed with magnets on refrigerator doors. If education has been successful, the high school student has matured beyond the point of continual adult supervision and intervention. Only then can we say he is being prepared for life outside the school environment. And finally, help your child with the following suggestions:

1. Balance sleep, rest, fun and work activities. A child who has been up late baby-sitting or working the night before will not be working in class at optimum level. Parents should monitor work hours carefully. Teachers are offended by students who fall asleep in class because of lack of proper rest! Also insist that you child eats a good breakfast before coming to school...and gets some sort of physical exercise during the day.

2. Encourage your child early in his school career to write down assignments! Persons of all ages should make use of "to do" lists. This gives a student something to look at when he sits down to study. He may also get a feeling of satisfaction when he can check off completed work. Students might also be encouraged to keep a calendar. Scheduled tests, quizzes and assignment could then be recorded. (Schools in the Netherlands provide such calendars for their students!) This also gives parents an idea of what is going on in the classroom.

3. Don’t let your child put off his schoolwork! Encourage him to estimate the time it will take and then DO IT! Procrastination until bedtime should not be tolerated! Schedule a minimum of one hour of study per night, regardless of whether specific homework is assigned. Or use this rule of thumb: 10 minutes for each year in school. During this time your child should review classroom notes, prepare for future tests, or simply just read the textbook material. This avoids the last minute cramming that results in short-term learning.

4. Establish a regular place to study without media interruptions, with good lighting and comfortable temps. Remember - too warm a room will result in a sleeping student!

5. ORGANIZE!!! Clean off the desk or table before starting and have supplies READY. Don’t waste time looking for study materials every time. Have them always ready and always in the same place (paper, writing utensils, dictionary, etc.). "Well arranged time is the surest mark of a well arranged. mind."

6. STUDY THE HARDEST SUBJECTS FIRST!!!

7. Take a few "minute breaks" as rewards for concentrated study. Take them either between subjects or every 20 minutes. Just don’t let the breaks get too long!

8. A serious student should periodically ask himself: "Am I focusing in on the material? Do I understand what I just read?" Parents, watch for daydreaming!

9. And lastly, parents, don’t completely discourage the "buddy system." There’s no way parents can know all the content of today’s modern courses. Friends can be excellent resource persons when your child gets stuck.

We as parents and teachers have the responsibility of being good examples to our children. Our own habits and lifestyles do not escape the critical scrutiny of the children God has entrusted to us. We know that especially today children have need of good role models. Parents, students, and teachers have been blessed with gifts and talents that must be used to glorify the God Who has given them.