Good study habits don’t just happen!
You have to work at them…
‘What to do’ lists out there are a dime a dozen, but good study habits, like all habits, are formed in context.
What this means is that, you pick up the habits of your neighbourhood – your gang.
If your immediate friends and family are into books, and have good study habits – it’s more than likely that you will copy what they do.
Role models influence thinking.
That is exactly why marketing people pay for the services of celebs.
An example of this trend is illustrated by Jamie Oliver’s Dream School, which has celebrity experts trying to inspire and instill a good work ethic into kids not showing any interest in education.
This immediately suggests that if you want your child to practice good study habits, then set a good, consistent example, particularly during their formative years.
Stats show again and again that children are influenced by parental expectation.
Chinese parents, for example, have high expectations of their children – the children study diligently, and the results show in their GCSE grades and the PISA tests in Maths, Science and Reading administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Here, Chinese 15 year olds outperformed all their international counterparts, with a good work ethic at the heart of their success.
In her controversial book, Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother, Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School states that Chinese parents have high expectations of their kids, bring them up in a strict environment, where anything less than top grades are unacceptable.
In such an environment, the children are expected to work diligently as a matter of routine and that, as empirical evidence suggests, leads to top grade results.
Similarly, in their teens it’s their pier group that will influence how your children think and behave.
Keeping company that practices good study habits will make it much easier for them to embrace the same values.
It is said that a problem shared, is a problem halved – but that is only true provided others share your interests and concerns.
Hence, trying to forge good work ethic, when the social norms and practice around you suggest otherwise, is like trying to swim against the tide and requires a strong character and will power to overcome the limitations of one’s immediate surroundings.
Often the concerns of the parents, that their progeny should work hard and make a go of their lives, are in sharp conflict with the interests of their children’s piers, for whom life should be dynamic and offer fun.
That is exactly why so many parents go out of their way in the U.K to ensure they live in a ‘catchment area’ that will enable their child to go to a school with high standards.
Their undeclared aim is for their child to pick up good habits, get top results, and carry onto a leading university and career.
Environment and resources also play an important part in forging study habits.
Let your child grow up surrounded by books, and they will learn to pick up books.
Let them grow up without books, and good study habits are unlikely to take root.
So buy a bookshelf and get hold of some books!
Top students almost always are internally motivated and self-disciplined.
This means, good study habits for them are a ‘no-brainer’ and you will find that they
-Prepare Early – before the academic year starts!
-Know and target specific goals
-Study regularly, preferably at the same place and time, so that they settle easily and quickly into familiar surroundings
-Are prepared before they arrive for lessons
-Work on challenges they find difficult first (c.f. Paul Graham, the essayist)
-Express confidence through engagement in class discussion
-Timetable their work
-Carry out regular reviews of their work
-Update and personalize class notes asap – preferably the same day as the lesson
-Stay organised and in control of their workload
-Study in small bite size chunks of 30-40 minutes, taking longer breaks every few hours
-Enjoy study and the particular subject
-Ask questions about content they don’t understand
-Maintain a good relationship with their school teachers
Research has also shown that parents who try to get their children to achieve through a reward system may create the illusion of good study habits, and these habits only last for the duration of the rewards.
When the rewards disappear, so do good study habits!
Hence, if you can forge a natural love of learning – good study habits will follow!