By Blanca Dela Cruz
School demands so much from kids that by the time they are done for the day, they are already beat. Then they have to square it off with the tutor once they get home. In our desire to see our children excel in academics, we sometimes take for granted that they can also get burned out. Here are some study strategies to help children ace schoolwork:
Let your kids play before studying. Children need a breather to condition their brain for the rigors of studying. Research suggests that play changes the connections of the neurons in the brain, making it more receptive to learning. Marjorie Ann Katigbak, mom to consistent academic achievers Gaby and Yggi shares, “I see to it that my children get a right balance between work and play. Since school occupies most of their day, I give them free time after school to unwind before they face their homework. I consider their ‘me time’ a crucial part of their day.”
Schedule and plan their review. It does not have to be the same exact time or duration, but at least the general time frame everyday when your kid will sit and focus only on her homework. This way, there will be structure and discipline in their review. Marjorie relates, “We don’t follow a specific time schedule in the afternoon for studying. As long as they are done with their ‘me time’, we start right away. The latest we finish is around 9 p.m. when they have quite a load. No gadgets allowed during school days, and they can watch TV only when they are done with their schoolwork. But this is not much of a concern since they prefer reading or playing over watching TV anyway.”
Push self-learning. Brain scientists found that when a task is 20% challenging, it promotes brain plasticity (positive brain changes). Encouraging children to do their assignments and helping them only after they have tried to solve or answer them maximizes their learning potential. It makes them independent learners. Marjorie agrees, “When it comes to supervising my kids with their homework, I first make them do the tasks on their own. It is only when they are done that I check on which lessons they need extra guidance. I try to find a system that works well with each of my kids since they have different learning styles. Some lessons require practice sheets while others require memorization that can be done through simple, random games.”
Teach them how to be self-starters. Equip older children with note-taking skills, using topic or course outlines to prepare for upcoming lessons and tests, and making meaning or connections between old and new lessons. Allow them to regulate their own learning by encouraging them to test themselves through answering problems or questions at the end of each chapter in textbooks or changing to a study technique or strategy that works well for them.
Keep them motivated by rewarding the effort. According to experts, the key in developing children’s confidence in learning is praising their efforts rather than their achievements. Demonstrating consistent understanding of concepts and skills equally deserves a reward as getting high test scores. Praise them when they get their lessons right or treat them to an extra hour of play when they exhibit mastery of a particular math or reading skill. Marjorie adds, “I always try to put a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and to limit associating high grades or awards with a new toy. If I have to use extrinsic motivation, it is usually in the form of a new book or a getting special treat in the restaurant of their choice.”
ALSO READ: In Focus: Couples, Listen Up! Here's Why Garden Weddings Are Both Trendy And Thrifty!
Article originally published in Working Mom's June 2015 issue. Check out more stories in the latest issue of Working Mom, now out in major bookstores. Digital edition is likewise available on Zinio, NoInk, and iTunes. For more updates, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.