Your child has an upcoming test. You want to help him study, but you’re not an expert on the subject. Here’s how you can help.
1. Prompt him to start studying a week before the test. “Cramming” for a test will likely cause most of the subject matter to be committed to short-term memory only. That means that, after the test, he will likely forget a substantial portion of the subject matter. If subsequent tests (i.e., semester tests) will cover the same material, he will not recall a large portion of this material.
2. Keep his distractions to a minimum. For example, if you start watching his favorite television program while he’s studying, he will want to watch the program too. The next thing you know, his textbook will be closed, and he will be focused entirely on the television.
3. Provide proper lighting, temperature, and noise. Brightly lit rooms generally provide the best environment for studying. The room temperature should be at or slightly cooler than his comfort zone. Regarding noise, most children focus best in silence; however, some children focus best with background noise such as the sound of a radio playing.
4. Provide proper nourishment. For optimal learning, your child should have a well balanced meal recently consumed. Hunger is a distraction for him. However, do not over-feed him: if he has over-eaten, he will become drowsy, and this impairs concentration.
5. Research the subject matter in his absence so that, when the two of you are together, you can speak with some knowledge on the subject.
6. “Package” the subject matter in terms that have meaning to him. For example, if your sports fan son is studying math, you can talk about how to calculate RBI’s, YPG, or other sports statistics.
7. Present the subject matter in the way that best suits him. For example, some students are visual learners ; flash cards and other visual learning aids are helpful for visual learners. Some students are auditory learners; lectures can be helpful for auditory learners. Some students prefer a more participative approach to learning; these students need one-on-one discussions, Q & A dialogue, field trips, etc. for optimal learning.
8. Do not pressure or criticize him regarding studying. If he feels stressed, his ability to concentrate and retain information will diminish. If he makes a mistake, don’t say, “No! You’ve made that mistake before! You need to LEARN this. Otherwise, this is just a waste of your time and mine.” Instead, you may say, “No, that’s not the right answer. Let’s see, maybe I can give you a hint on how to remember this. How about an acronym . . . one letter for each word that you need to remember?”
9. Tap your resources. Your resources likely include the Internet, your school or public library, a family member or friend who may be a font of knowledge on the subject, etc. If you find a website that is a tutorial on the subject matter, that may be a helpful resource for you. Your library may have books that are helpful. If a knowledgeable friend, family member, or nanny can help your child learn the subject matter, then that too is a valuable resource.
You don’t have to be a master of the subject matter to help your child study. By following the tips above, you can help your child study and do well in his coursework.
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