How to Encourage Good Study Habits

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By: Rhiannon Winner, Uloop

Let’s face it: when your student is off at college, there’s no guarantee that they’ll do anything the way you want them to. But when it comes to studying, both you and your student want them to do things the right way.

Even if your student brushes off your advice at first, when they really need to buckle down and study, they’re going to remember all of the good study habits that you suggested.

Take breaks.

Sometimes, a student really wants to just sit down and finish all of their work at once. Remind them that this is a poor study strategy, and it’s going to take them far longer to actually complete it all if they don’t give their brain a chance to rest.

Of course, the best kind of break activity depends on the student. Encourage them to do something fun for a short time — say, 15 minutes — every once in a while. Maybe they want to watch a quick, 20-minute episode of their favorite show on Netflix, doodle, lie down and listen to some music, or even just take a nap — whatever works for your student.

Just remind them that it’s important not to get too distracted during their break and forget to start studying again. Your student should set a reminder on their computer or phone, or if that’s not an option, they can even just watch the clock and time themselves.

Work ahead.

Remind your student that they should start studying for a big test or project far in advance. People tend to retain information better if they study it in small doses over a period of time (say, a week before their test) rather than if they cram for hours the night before.

Your student has probably heard this advice before, although if they’re like most college students, they rarely heed it. Still, if you know that they have a big due date approaching, text them and remind them to start doing a bit of studying here and there in the week or two beforehand. Pretty quickly they’ll realize it’s some good advice.

Encourage them to stay organized.

Even if your student has every intention of studying in advance of their test, it can be difficult if they’re not organized. They’ll probably want to look back over old notes or tests and quizzes, which can be tough if they’re disorganized and can’t find half of what they’re looking for.

On the other hand, if your student doesn’t have a planner or wall calendar or some way of keeping track of upcoming events, they might not even realize that the day of the test is so close. That can make it far more difficult to squeeze in enough study time or to visit the professor to ask questions.

If your student struggles with staying organized, try buying them organizational tools that they like (such as accordion folders, calendars, day planners, binder tabs, et cetera) to keep them on track.

Suggest that they study in a group.

If your student has friends in the class, or at least knows how to contact some of their classmates, suggest that they form a study group. As long as they don’t get too off-topic and generally try to focus on the material, a study group can be extremely helpful. Students might have slightly different notes, giving everyone a little more information than they had on their own, plus students can teach each other concepts that another member of the group might not understand.

Although, you should warn your student to specifically study with people they know are serious about the class. The last thing you want is for your student to create a study group, and then get no studying done because the other students aren’t too serious about doing well.

Remind them to study in different places.

The best place to study varies from student to student. Some thrive in the quiet, productive hub of the library, while others tend to excel in the noisy, hustle-and-bustle of the nearest coffee shop. Your student knows what kind of environment they need to study in, so encourage them to seek it out, but in a different place each time they study.

Heading to the same place, especially if it’s their room, can make it difficult to study. Your student will begin to dread going to their chosen study spot, and find it harder to focus as time goes on. If they’re the quiet sort, suggest that they seek out places on campus like an empty classroom, the library, lesser known spots around campus, or whatever works for them. If they’re louder, remind them that they could visit a floor of the library where talking is permitted (in college libraries, often this is the ground floor or basement), a restaurant, the dining hall, or wherever they prefer.

It’s hard to encourage good study habits from afar, but trust in your student. They might be off to a bit of a rocky start, as many college students are, but your student will eventually come around and do their best — even if that means actually listening to their parents’ study strategies.

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