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Expert tutors share the top 6 study habits to help your student excel this school year

Posted at 5:34 AM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 06:05:37-04

More than 1.5 million students across Michigan are now back in school. So, it’s time to get back into learning mode. And there are study strategies that can help your student make the grade.

“The most important thing? Get your homework done. Learn your stuff,” said Yolanda Nelson, a Detroit native and longtime tutor. “Do not have any music going. Do not be in front of the television!”

And that's a good place to start because homework can often be overwhelming.

“Not only is the homework load more, but the expectations to get into higher education are higher as well,” said Sylvan Learning Center of West Bloomfield owner Alex Ho.

We asked him for some sound advice to help get the school year started off on a good note for kids.

He identified six good study habits to help students excel.

1. Designate a Study Area

Designate a study area in the home – a quiet, clean, well-lit space with no TV or social media allowed.

He also suggested parents with more than one child in the home make sure each child has their own separate space to study.

2. Manage Time

“For today’s student, it really varies by semester and sport season,” said Ho.

Kids have to carve out the best window to tackle homework each day. Teach your child to break projects into smaller tasks. Then establish a time frame for completion.

Also, having the child write down when they expect to sleep, go to school, eat meals, do extracurricular activities and socialize really shows them how challenging it is to fit in studying before or after school. Kids start to understand planning homework time is a priority.

3. Emphasize Organization

Trapper Keeper to three-ring binders with six pockets, it’s important to emphasize organization when it comes to class materials and assignments.

“Color-coded binders, color-coded tabs to separate your different subjects. A lot of students have their to-do and completed side,” said Ho, who added that turning in homework on paper is still a thing in this digital age. So, don’t shove it in the bottom of your backpack.

4. Keep a Schedule

Keep a schedule of all classes, assignments, and key dates. Much of this is done digitally now for each subject.

“A lot of teachers will share their calendar with students. The student can see that. And they can share elements of that with their parents,” said Ho.

“I encourage parents to go online. Every school district now has where they can see their student’s grades, and they can see the assignments that week. I encourage my parents to print that out so it’s kind of a check list,” said Ho.

This can be coupled with a child’s after-school activities, too.

“Mom can have her schedule and can also see her daughter’s schedule, and they can combine it,” Ho said.

5. Take Effective Class Notes

Don’t underestimate the importance of taking good notes in class.

The Cornell Method of note-taking is recommended for those in high school. Students take the notes on the bulk of the page – about two-thirds on the right side – and then they write key words or questions about that same content on the left-hand side of the paper.

And then they can summarize at the bottom of the page.

This method can make studying easier because students can fold over the answers and quiz themselves using the key words and questions.

6. Embrace How You Learn Best

“There [are] three main learning styles. There’s tactile or Haptic. Then there’s auditory. And then there’s visual,” said Ho.

Tactile or Haptic learners learn best through their sense of touch – via demonstrations or hands-on practice. They like to get up and move around while learning, too.

Auditory learners digest information best through listening, speaking and interacting with others. Think small study groups or instructions.

Visual learners learn by what they see. They utilize flash cards, graphs, maps, diagrams and what they read.

Ho said students should figure out what kind of learner they are and practice how they digest information most effectively in order to understand it for the long run.

And if your child thrives on cramming for exams, try to break them of that habit.

Being prepared by reviewing the material during the weeks up to the test will end up reducing text anxiety and leading to more confidence in the classroom and beyond.