Published: May 17, 2019
Keeping children invested and engaged in learning is a day-to-day struggle for most parents and one that can seem overwhelming. With so many distractions vying for a child’s time, instilling the values of discipline and the virtues of curiosity isn’t easy.
This is why it is important to use study strategies that have been scientifically proven to get results. If you want to find ways to make learning more efficient and fun for your kids, here are five methods that can help you — and your children — succeed.
1. Avoid Multitasking
More than ever before, we live in a mediated world. Even adults have a hard time going an hour without checking social media or looking at something on their phones, and issues like “smartphone addiction” are now being recognized as serious problems. This poses a particular threat to children, who are increasingly struggling to pay the kind of deep attention that is needed in order to learn complicated concepts.
The single most important thing you can do to improve your child’s study habits is to get rid of distractions. Sustained, intensive study for short periods of time is far more effective than longer study periods that are constantly being interrupted by Snapchat and text messages.
If you want to improve the quality of your child’s study time, you might also want to consider hiring a tutor who will keep them focussed on the task at hand (you can click here to get more info about how to find a tutor in the Greater Toronto Area).
2. Connect Learning to Everyday Life
One of the biggest challenges any educator faces is connecting the sometimes abstract and theoretical aspects of a school curriculum to a student’s life and interests. Literacy may be one of the most essential skills a child will ever learn, but in an age of emojis, instructional videos, and video games, it can be hard to convince students that being able to read at a high level of comprehension is important.
This is born out by the numbers: Canada is currently facing a decline in literacy and numeracy, and has fallen in international rankings when compared to countries like South Korea, Japan, and the Netherlands.
For this reason, it is essential to help make the connection between practical skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic and the things your child already enjoys. Try to find books, articles, and websites with content that will appeal to them, and engage them creatively through activities like writing a screenplay for their own Marvel movie. If you are interested in finding other ways to help your child develop a love of reading, you can click here for more practical strategies for literacy development.
3. Study Multiple Subjects a Day
There is a tendency among students to want to block their time and focus on one subject for a longer period. While this method can be effective when learning some things (when writing essays, for example, it is a good idea to spend as much time as possible in an uninterrupted state of flow), when it comes to memorizing facts or learning a new language, it can be much more effective to parcel the task out into manageable periods.
For example, if your child is studying Math, French, History, and Biology, they are going to need to do a lot of memorization. If they only have an hour of studying time a day, or five hours a week, it will be far more useful to use an interleaving technique and split the study time up into half hour parcels, studying Math and French one day and History and Biology the next. This means they will never go more than two days without working on each subject, and will be able to direct their study time more effectively.
Furthermore, because each individual study session is only taking on a small and manageable amount of new information, it is easier to get students motivated and to keep them from getting discouraged.
4. Learn Through Teaching
One of the reasons our education philosophy is so interactive is because we believe that most students learn best when they have someone to bounce ideas off of. A tutor should be like a smart friend who can help make studying less tedious and more engaging, not only because this will make studying more fun, but also because it has been proven to help learning outcomes.
Learning through teaching — a method by which the student tries to teach the information they have just learned to someone else — is proven to be extremely effective, and having a tutor on hand gives your child the opportunity to try out their knowledge on someone who also understands the material. The tutor can gently correct any mistakes or misunderstandings, while also providing the student with an attentive and friendly audience.
This will help your child build confidence in their own learning and communication abilities, and will help them develop secondary skills like giving presentations. Who knows — they may love the experience so much they will want to become a Prep Academy Tutor themself further down the road!
5. Take Notes
Note taking is one of the single best practices a student can incorporate into their study strategy. Not only does note taking serve a practical purpose by providing a record of the material that was covered in class, it also helps develop critical thinking and writing skills, because it forces students to focus on the most important points in the lesson.
Note taking also keeps students alert and engaged in class, so even if a teacher provides the slides and lecture notes for the class, students should still take notes of their own.
As most teachers will tell you, students are not actually opposed to learning, given the right conditions. In fact, when it comes to subjects they love, children quickly become experts. What is often lacking is a sense of purpose, motivation, and structure, which is what these five teaching methods and tips can, when applied by an experienced tutor, provide.