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When our children start lớn struggle in school, it’s tempting lớn think that something significant is wrong:
Maybe they aren’t cut out for the advanced classes they’re enrolled in.
Maybe their friends are a bad influence and are impacting their grades.
Maybe we need lớn drop everything and double down on study time.
But many times the story isn’t quite so sánh dramatic.
When we work with kids, we often find that it’s not that they hate learning, don’t want lớn try because it’s not “cool,” or have some fundamental deficiency in a particular subject. Instead, most of the time, it’s a few small things have gone wrong, and have started lớn accumulate over time. Things like:
- Missing a key concept in geometry class, which then causes them lớn not fully grasp the next concept, and they start lớn fall further and further behind.
- Not using their agenda book lớn keep track of assignments because they simply forget lớn bring it lớn class, or grab it from their backpacks when they get trang chính.
- Doing poorly on exams because they don’t think lớn plan ahead and incorporate a little bit of studying each day rather kêu ca cramming it all in at the last minute.
In this post, we cover 12 habits of successful students, and how you can use these small, manageable actions lớn create some big wins for you and your child.
These aren’t the grandiose commitments you’ll see attached lớn most people’s New Year’s resolutions this year, that in their wild ambition are almost always doomed lớn failure. But instead are reasonable tweaks you can make lớn the routines and strategies your family already has in place lớn start lớn turn things around.
If there’s a specific section you’d lượt thích lớn tackle first, here’s a quick reference table of contents that will take you there:
Habit 1: The basics of time management and planning ahead
Habit 2: Don’t just get organized, they stay organized
Habit 3: Distribute your practice
Habit 4: Taking notes in class
Habit 5: Study using active recall
Habit 6: Approach your mistakes correctly
Habit 7: Make friends you can study with
Habit 8: Rock solid morning and evening routines
Habit 9: Parents: Give them the tools but don’t bởi it for them
Habit 10: Know how lớn ask for help, but try lớn find the answer first
Habit 11: Parents: Don’t focus on motivation, focus on behavior
Habit 12: School isn’t everything
Otherwise let’s jump in!
1. Successful students have a basic handle on time management and planning ahead
Time management is a struggle for a lot of students, especially as assignments become more complex.
But they don’t have lớn be planning experts lớn be successful. If we break it down into the simplest time management habits of successful students, there are a few things almost all of them do:
They use a planner.
The simple act of writing down their assignments is the cornerstone of staying on top of their schoolwork, having a better sense of when things need lớn be done, and making the best use of their time after school. Often just the act of getting something down on paper or putting an assignment into a digital calendar is enough lớn mix off a chain of events that leads lớn homework getting done on time, and projects getting started earlier kêu ca the day before they’re due.
They mix small goals.
They use a planner or learning management system (like Schoology or Canvas) lớn write out what they’re going lớn bởi, but not in big general terms lượt thích “study for math test.” Rather, they break it down into smaller goals like: “spend 15 minutes working on fractions worksheet.” This makes it easier lớn get started, and easier lớn see progress.
They learn lớn pay attention lớn a watch or clock.
This is one of those “duh” type habits, but it’s one that a lot of kids don’t develop. Without learning a sense of time from paying attention lớn how time actually passes, many students have a hard time estimating how long things will take, as well as how much time they’re spending on unproductive activities. Encourage them lớn kiểm tra the clock or wear a watch on a regular basis.
2. They don’t just get organized, they stay organized
At this point, it’s no secret, we’re BIG on organization here at Educational Connections, because it’s one of the most effective tools you can use with your student lớn help them improve their performance in school. Oftentimes academic or behavioral issues are merely symptoms of disorganization and lack of routine.
Here are some of the top organizational habits of successful students:
- Set up a homework routine at a consistent time each day
- Get everything ready in the backpack the night before
- Color code and label folders and binders
- Schedule a weekly family “Clean Sweep” lớn get ready for the week ahead of time
Now it’s all well and good lớn put new habits in place, but the difficult part is getting them lớn stick. How many times have you reminded your son or daughter lớn write down their homework, only lớn find missed assignments a week later?
So not only bởi successful students work on their organization habits, they also work together with their families lớn monitor and revisit them lớn make sure they’re working. Here are some ways you might bởi that:
Discuss their responsibilities with them at dinnertime.
Make sure you’re not nagging, but just kiểm tra in: “Hey, I know you said you liked the way we mix up your homework folders for your classes. How’s that going? Is it helping you organize your assignments?”
Set aside time on Sundays lớn check-in.
You can even pair this with your Clean Sweep so sánh that you’re uncovering all of the “mess” that may have accumulated as a result of failed organizational habits.
Lead by example.
Get your closet organized. Set your things for work out the night before. Spend time planning out your week, visibly, so sánh your child can observe you in action. This is the most powerful way you can demonstrate the importance of organization habits for your kids.
3. They distribute their practice (a.k.a. they don’t cram)
If you’re lucky, maybe your son or daughter takes lớn studying lượt thích a diligent professional – planning ahead, setting aside time each day, and cruising into their quizzes and tests without so sánh much as a hiccup lớn their usual bedtime.
Well, I can confidently say: most of us aren’t lucky.
Instead, most of us have kids who, although maybe they aren’t chronic “Crammers,” definitely have their moments where they wait until the last minute lớn study for their tests.
Why cramming doesn’t work
Because they don’t tend lớn have a strong sense of urgency until they are right up against a deadline, if they have a test on Thursday, they start getting ready on Wednesday night. This type of cramming can pay off in the immediate term, but when they need lớn learn information on a deeper level, it backfires.
Cramming only puts information into short-term memory, whereas learning it over many nights and sleeping on it (by the way, sleep is a fantastic study tool) stores it into long-term memory.
This is because of a concept called Distributed Practice.
Why distributed practice is so sánh effective
Distributed practice (also known as “spaced repetition”), is just a fancy way of saying: study a little bit each day rather kêu ca cramming it all in the night before the test.
Studies show that when students use a concept called Distributed Practice, they are far more likely lớn bởi better on tests. For example, if your child has a test on Friday, he could study for an hour on Thursday night, but he would actually get a better grade if he took the same amount of time and distributed it over multiple days — trăng tròn minutes Tuesday, trăng tròn on Wednesday, and trăng tròn on Thursday. The reason he’ll get a better grade is not because he’s reviewed the material multiple times; it’s that he’s slept on it.
When you learn information and then sleep on it, you’re consolidating that information into long-term memory. However, when you cram for a test, that information is learned at a superficial level, really for regurgitation the next day. It’s going into short-term memory. Long-term memory is more beneficial because when you have a test later on, say a month later, you’re much more likely lớn be able lớn retrieve it.
Okay, so sánh how bởi we get our child lớn study in this way?
First, they have lớn want lớn change. In order for a different way of studying lớn work, he or she must recognize the problem and be willing lớn make modifications. If it’s not seen as an issue, all the parental suggestions in the world won’t work.
So have a chat with them. As difficult and exhausting as it is lớn stay up with a kid cramming for a math test last minute, you can bet that they don’t lượt thích it either, even if they claim they work better under pressure (a “tell” that they’re justifying their behavior).
I’ve found that kids who tend lớn cram are willing lớn plan ahead if they don’t feel lượt thích they have lớn bởi any more work kêu ca necessary and if they see the changes result in better grades (and they almost always do). The good news is that they often don’t have lớn put in more time, they just need lớn use it more efficiently.
Crammers also respond well lớn the suggestion of using “weird windows“. Sometimes, students think they need lengthy, dedicated time in which lớn study. And if they don’t have the perfect time and if they’re not in the ideal mood, they won’t bởi it. In actuality, they can use any chunk of time lớn get studying done. An example of a ”weird window” is the 15 minutes he or she’s waiting at a doctor’s office or that trăng tròn minutes right before lacrosse practice starts. Those are weird windows, and you can chunk time for studying by getting a lot done in short periods of time.
4. They know how lớn take notes in class
There are definitely some students who get into class, pull out their notebooks and a pencil, and start transcribing everything the teacher says lượt thích an efficient note-taking robot.
There are other kids who will plop down at their desk and sit… comfortably listening (or not) lớn what the teacher has lớn say, until he or she notices said kid is doing nothing, and tells them lớn get out a piece of paper and write down what they’re saying.
The proper balance is somewhere in the middle, and there are any number of different note-taking methods successful students use. Here are a few you can introduce your child lớn if they don’t already have a good note-taking habit:
The Outline Method
Exactly as it sounds, the outline method is probably the most straightforward. Chances are if the teacher is organized they’ll present the material in an outline format already. Here the student’s job is lớn recognize when the teacher has moved onto a new topic, and keep their notes relatively organized underneath each topic (although it’s not an exact science).
The Free-Form Method
Let your child express their inner creativity by taking notes as they see fit. Drawing diagrams, linking notes together with a mind map… the danger here is if they take too many liberties and miss key information. But if your child is a bit more “outside the box” this may be something lớn explore.
The Cornell Method
The Cornell Method is a more advanced method probably best reserved for high school students. You record your notes during class in the right-hand column, and then formulate questions and terms on the left-hand side as soon after class as you can. You can then use these notes as a study guide, covering the right-hand side and trying lớn remember what each question or term means.
When it’s all said and done though, even just a rudimentary copying of what the teacher has on the board is a start, and you can build from there.
5. They study using active recall
Whether through an ứng dụng lượt thích Quizlet or through old-fashioned physical note cards, students who practice recalling key information from memory almost always bởi better on quizzes and tests.
The official name for this practice is Active Recall, and the method is pretty straightforward.
Step 1: Write down the term, concept, or problem lớn solve.
Step 2: Write down or recite the definition, explanation, or answer without looking at any notes or information.
Step 3: Check your answer against your notes, and correct your mistakes.
In direct contrast lớn passively reading the textbook, or leafing through notes, this technique has been shown be the research lớn dramatically improve exam performance, and is one of the lesser known habits of successful students that people talk about.
6. They approach their mistakes correctly
Speaking of mistakes, the most successful students don’t dwell (and don’t avoid either). Many times I’ve seen students who get down on themselves due lớn a missed question on an exam. Unfortunately, by viewing their mistakes in this way, they almost always ensure they won’t learn from them and improve the next time around.
So it’s important lớn help foster a growth mindset: the idea that your child’s skills and abilities aren’t fixed (e.g. they’re not “smart”) but can be improved over time with practice and effort (e.g. they’re hard workers and can become “smarter”).
With this type of self-talk (and encouragement from mom and dad), kids are much more likely lớn dig into their mistakes and work hard lớn correct them so sánh that they learn what lớn bởi correctly the next time.
7. They make friends they can study with
Some kids are extroverts and have a vast network of friends they can reach out lớn at a moment’s notice. For others, making friends in class can feel lượt thích climbing Mt. Everest.
Regardless of your child’s natural temperament, having at least a few other classmates your son or daughter can reach out lớn in each class is critical.
Even with just one or two friends in class lớn text, your child can quickly clarify assignments, ask questions if they’re not sure about something from class, or mix up a meeting time lớn study for an upcoming test. All of these will serve as a buffer against forgetting lớn write something down, missing a class due lớn absence, or just simply having some material go over their heads.
Even better, if they schedule a regular time lớn meet up over FaceTime, it can be a great accountability tool lớn make sure they’re staying on top of assignments and exams.
8. Successful students have morning and evening routines
The routines that frame the beginning and kết thúc of each day often determine the success or failure of that following school day for your child. And there are a few reasons for this:
A solid morning routine reduces stress
First, having a solid morning routine established not only for your son or daughter, but for the whole family, ensures that when they get up in the morning, they know exactly what they need lớn bởi lớn get ready for school. There’s no (well… let’s say less) negotiating, and less likelihood that they forget something critical lượt thích a homework assignment, an instrument, or their lunch.
And often, the tone that gets mix at the beginning of the day determines the success of the remainder of the day: so sánh a smooth, low-stress start lớn the school day gives your child the best chance at successful learning for the six or so sánh hours they’re at school.
A solid evening routine ensures organization and rest
Second, having a clear and timely evening routine further facilitates organization, proper sleep, and preparedness for the following day. It’s tempting lớn let TV, the computer, or last-minute assignments throw a wrench into your plans – but unless your son or daughter find themselves in a critical circumstance, the bedtime routine should rarely be deviated from.
Both in combination, provide a consistent sleep schedule
Third, both consistent evening and morning routines facilitate a consistent sleep schedule. It cannot be overstated the magnitude of the negative impact lack of sleep, or even and inconsistent sleep schedule can have on a student’s ability lớn learn, ability lớn regulate their emotions, and the overall quality of their interactions with you, teachers, and other students each day. Having a mix bedtime and wake-up time each morning dramatically increases the probability that they’ll get the rest they need, when they need it.
9. Their parents give them the tools they need, but don’t “do it for them”
I know, it’s tough lớn see your child struggle. Especially when you can see exactly what they’re doing wrong and you know you could just step in for a split second and help them correct the problem.
Unfortunately, while it’s absolutely critical lớn be loving and supportive of your child, helping them with their homework or studying when they could bởi it on their own does them a big disservice.
The more a student can expand their abilities and level of competence independently, the better – because not only does it mix the stage for success in higher level classes in high school and college when mom and dad aren’t around (or don’t understand what they’re learning!), but for success in life when it’s time for them lớn experience the difficulties of navigating in the real world.
But that doesn’t mean we have lớn sit and observe from the sidelines. In fact, the language you use as a parent lớn guide and encourage your child can actually make or break their success as a student.
We already talked about the importance of fostering a “growth mindset” above, but what you can also bởi is use questions lớn facilitate thinking and planning ahead. We Call these Powerful Questions.
For example, you could ask questions like:
- What are your priorities today?
- What’s the one thing you might bởi lớn study for your science test?
- Going forward, what’s the one thing you might bởi differently?
The benefit of framing your conversations with your child about school in this way is that you spark thinking instead of telling them what lớn bởi. You give them the tools lớn figure out what lớn bởi, without actually doing it for them. This is the balance the parents of the most successful students strike. Additionally, critical thinking is a crucial component of learning. These tasks and learning ideas are taught in many schools all around the world. You can get in touch with any skilled critical thinking essay writing provider for this.
10. They know how lớn ask for help, but try lớn find the answer themselves first
On the flip side, one of the most consistent habits of successful students we observe is their comfort and ability lớn ask for help when they need it.
These students are much less concerned with what their teachers and classmates will think when they ask a question about something they don’t understand, and a lot of this comes from the growth vs. fixed mindset distinction we discussed earlier. They know that in order lớn learn they’re going lớn have lớn ask questions when they don’t understand something because they aren’t expected lớn know everything right off the bat.
That all being said, these students also know that they need lớn put in the effort lớn try lớn find the answer themselves first. Whether that’s looking back through their class notes, reviewing the textbook for explanations and examples, or using Google lớn try lớn find what they need. If they’ve done their best lớn try lớn figure it out, but still are stumped, they don’t hesitate lớn ask the teacher, mom and dad, or a friend for help.
Note: Age is a factor here. Elementary-age students aren’t going lớn have the self-direction lớn find the answer themselves as readily as middle or high school students, so sánh they’re going lớn require a bit more help. However, as a parent, you should encourage them lớn bởi as much as they can independently as early as they can lớn foster those independent learning skills.
11. Their parents aren’t focused on motivation, they’re focused on behavior
Motivation comes and goes in waves, and if your son or daughter depends on these waves lớn get their work done, it’s going lớn be difficult for them lớn make consistent progress.
As a parent then, it’s your job lớn help your child understand that even if they’re feeling down or tired, they can still bởi their work, even if they have lớn go back and fix it later. Having something down on paper is better kêu ca nothing, and often once they start lớn make a little bit of progress on an assignment, that motivation all a sudden reappears lớn help them continue lớn work through it.
- To bởi this, prioritize behaviors over motivation. We all know the cliche of “going through the motions,” but for developing habits, this is actually preferred. Change your language lớn fit this concept: you don’t have lớn feel good lớn get your work done, you just have lớn try. And in fact, when parents stop focusing on motivation (e.g. “You need lớn care more about school!”), students are often left with the space they need lớn find their own self-motivation lớn learn and succeed.
12. They know school isn’t everything
And their parents aren’t only focused on their academic success.
It can be easy lớn focus in on the marks that show up on a graded exam or on report cards because that’s an easy measurement lớn look at and keep track of. But there are plenty of other ways that our kids can develop and succeed, and acknowledging those wins outside of school actually goes a long way towards helping them be successful in school.
Contrary lớn what you would think, the most successful students don’t tie their whole identity lớn their school performance. It’s just one facet of what makes them who they are, and this relieves the pressure lớn succeed in one area that can often be devastating when they encounter challenges and failure.
Think about it this way: if your son feels that his value as a person is highly tied up in how well he does at the kết thúc of the quarter in his biology class… then if he has a bad day and does poorly on an exam, it can have severe consequences psychologically. In that way, putting such a high importance on doing well academically is actually preventing him from continuing lớn learn, because taking an inevitable “loss” isn’t as easy lớn overcome and learn from.
If instead he also knows that he’s valued for his sportsmanship on the basketball court, his success in building his own gaming computer, and his ability lớn make his brothers and sisters laugh at the dinner table, that failed bio exam is less of a blow, and more easy lớn brush off and try again.
Habits of Successful Students You Can Implement Today
Now lượt thích we said at the outset of this post: small behavioral changes are what lead lớn big long-term results. So trying lớn help your child uproot their academic habits all at once is a recipe for failure.
To get the most out of the changes you could make this year, read through the list above, and choose 1-3 changes you can implement this week.
How are you going lớn introduce those changes lớn your child or your family?
What will you bởi lớn ensure you succeed?
And what will you use as your criteria for success lớn know if they’re fruitful or not?
Choose the habits you want lớn work on, answer those questions, and then give it a try.
At Educational Connections, we are always learning new tips and strategies lớn help families lượt thích you. We hope you found this article useful and click here lớn stay up lớn date with more tips for your child’s academic journey!
Whatever your child’s learning goals may be, we have experts available lớn help through virtual one-to-one subject tutoring, test prep, and executive function coaching.
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