College Prep 101: Teaching Responsible Study Habits
- Thursday, December 03, 2009
For high schoolers, there's more to planning for college than simply getting accepted. Unless your student has experienced a more rigorous course of study and learned some good study habits, he'll be overwhelmed to arrive on campus and discover the mountains of reading, writing, and studying that await him.
You can do a lot to prepare your student and help deter the stress and erratic grades that separate the unequipped college freshman from the equipped. Train your teen during high school—or even junior high—by encouraging study habits that will serve him well in college.
In the first of this two-part series, these five guidelines will help you achieve this goal.
Train Your Teen to Meet Deadlines
In many households, homeschoolers are notorious for working "whenever." As long as the work gets done, no one seems to care whether the kids do school in the morning, afternoon, or well into the evening. When you give a history or science test, your child writes till he's finished, with no attention paid to the clock. Mom asks for a report on photosynthesis, due Friday. It's not ready yet? Oh, well. Just get it to me as soon as you can.
Isn't this our privilege? After all, we're homeschooling. We don't need to bow to the rules and schedules of the schools. But if this speaks to you, you may want to rethink the idea of scheduling, because if your teenager is used to having all the time in the world, he'll be in for a rude awakening when college hits—along with scheduled classes, syllabuses filled with deadlines, and no one watching over his shoulder to remind him.
By taking a moment each day to survey the work that needs to be done and calculate how much time is needed and available, your student will learn to avoid the panicked late-night study sessions that plague many high schoolers and college students. He'll also appreciate the benefits (including reduced stress) of following a plan, and he will enjoy his free time all the more. Good habits such as scheduling time to work on assignments will prove indispensable when he faces the additional demands of college course work.
Also, begin attaching a time limit to any tests you give at home. Most exams associated with a textbook such as A Beka Book or BJU Press are designed to be administered during a fifty-minute class period. Essay questions given as tests should also have a time limit. Depending on your goal, limit the essay to perhaps twenty, fifty, or ninety minutes; you'll do your student a favor.
Create a Quiet Workspace
Students need a quiet spot for studying—and studying alone. This can be a challenge if you have a small house. Our daughter and son-in-law currently live in a two-bedroom house with their four children, so I realize it isn't always possible to create a quiet, private workspace. But if you can swing it, designate a workspace that's separated from the family room, kitchen, or other high-traffic locations that tend to introduce lots of distractions.
By setting aside an isolated area used only for schoolwork, you will help your teen separate work time from rest and relaxation. This promotes concentration during study sessions, which will, in turn, produce better results in less time. When she goes to college, she'll have to learn to deal with the distractions of noisy dorms and the siren's call of "Come on, don't be a wet noodle. Let's go out for coffee!" She needs to learn that there's both a time and a place for work.
Limit Social Networking
Your teen lives in the modern world. Between phone calls, texting, email, instant messages, Facebook, and any other number of social networking opportunities, she has to learn to establish boundaries for herself in order to get any work done at all. When she's hammering out a paper or other project, there should be none of this electronic interruption until she's finished, and for good reason. Setting aside these distractions is sort of like hanging an e-version of the "do not disturb" sign. The message? I'm not available right now.
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