Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary
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If You Want Your Kids to Pass Finals, Don't Let Them Do This

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 May 15

We all can remember studying for our final exams. After all the hours sitting in class, after all the homework and pop quizzes and papers, the entire academic year comes down to a few last tests. Ace them and a carefree summer awaits. Choke and you could be facing the prospect of summer school.

Times may change, but the discipline of studying remains constant. It’s all about preparation and focus. I once heard about a teacher in a Christian school who led her classes in the same prayer before every final:  “Lord,” she would say, “please help these kids remember what they studied. But more importantly, may what they studied and remember be on the test!”

According to experts (and backed up by common sense) the ability to remember what you study often comes down to avoiding distractions. Back when I was a kid, the distractions ranged from television to music to wanting to play ball with my friends. Those still exist, of course, but technology is threatening to further distract our kids.  Consider this observation from Slate.com:

Researchers recently observed 263 students (from middle school, high school and college) as they were studying: Within two minutes, many were texting, tweeting, surfing the Web, watching TV or updating their Facebook page. After 15 minutes, the scientists found that students had spent just 65% of their time, on average, actually studying.
Research also indicates that multi-taskers generally remember less of what they study. And the stuff they do remember, they have more difficulty understanding. "There's nothing magical about the brains of so-called 'digital natives' that keeps them from suffering the inefficiencies of multitasking," says David Meyer, a professor of psychology from the University of Michigan. "They may like to do it, they may even be addicted to it, but there's no getting around the fact that it's far better to focus on one task from start to finish."

So moms and dad, if you want to help your kids finish the school year strong, you might urge them to turn off their phones and stay off Facebook and Twitter for a few hours at a time. Not only will they increase their quality of study time, but they may also be surprised (and relieved) to discover the Earth will continue to spin on its axis without their texts, tweets or status updates.

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