I went to grade school in the 1950’s. (Keep the snickering down back there) In those days we didn’t get a lot of homework through the week although we did get a little. Mostly we got extra work on the weekends and we got long-term assignments that we could work on a little at a time at our leisure. It was as much to teach us planning as anything else. It was then even at an early age I found I was a procrastinator.
Today kids are inundated with homework. There is so much to learn that even with study halls they have to bring work home. Unfortunately that often means the death of learning.
When I was a kid television was in its infancy. There were only three channels and they didn’t always come in good. We usually played outside but as it got colder that wasn’t an option either. So sitting down to do homework was a little easier.
Today the television has 1.5 million channels and it is usually cable which means it has the same degree of sharpness as being there. Also there are cell phones, iPods and everything the internet offers not to mention video games. It is hard to get kids to study.
Studies done by the National Institute of Health, (NIH), show that involvement by parents increase learning for kids. However what should a parent do specifically?
The NIH study compared young students with college students. College students don’t like to review material. In other words they like to study things they don’t already know. Young students on the other hand like to study things they are familiar with. Parents need to involve themselves with helping their children study those things they don’t know.
An effective tool that is highly recommended is flash cards. If a student is very comfortable with their “twos” with respect to multiplication then it is important to move on to the “threes.” Even then there is a methodology that is preferred.
As teachers parents tend to give answers for two reasons. They don’t want their student to suffer (it’s true!) and they want to show their student how much they know. (Even more true!) Keep in mind just because we’re adults we don’t lose all of our competitive nature even with our own children.
Another tool is information sheets with questions on the front and the answers on the back.
When using flash cards one of the big mistakes we as parents and teachers make is to give the child the answer if they don’t answer right away. Sometimes a child will go through some self-taught procedures to remember answers. Make sure and give them plenty of time to answer.
When you work with new information it is best to do a little review but in both cases for new and old information it is better to use small amounts of study time like 20-30 minutes every day as opposed to an hour and a half.
Young students are as good as college kids at knowing what they do and do not know so they can help guide you in your study with them.
The most important thing to do is to make sure that they do not have any distractions. That means the cell phone goes off as well as the television and internet. Remember if they don’t want to cooperate you can wait as long as they can. While there have been some studies that having something like a cell phone on when studying helps multi-tasking the majority of studies say just the reverse. It teaches bad habits.
Here is a little tip. My kids didn’t want help with their homework, mainly because they wanted to listen to music. So I said as long as they could pass a test over the information when they were done administered by me they could study on their own. They did a good job in order to retain their freedom and I got to watch sports and read.
Raising kids keeps you on your toes.
“Time to Study,” Article, NIH News in Health, September 2009