Making the Grade

Study pointers for kids.

For many children, studying is perhaps one of the most dreaded aspects of school. Not to be confused with the act of completing assignments, studying requires extra time spent reading, understanding and memorizing important topics and concepts. Whether your child is in kindergarten or college, these tips can make studying easier to tolerate— and more effective.

1. Eliminate distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, cell phone and other electronics. For those who focus better while listening to music, however, allow limited iPod use.

2. Allow breaks. Older children maintain focus better than younger ones. If frequent breaks are necessary, let your child eat a snack (a full stomach leads to effective studying), take a ten-minute walk or engage in another nonacademic activity.

3. Help your child. Many children learn best through recall and repetition. Have your child make flash cards of key terms, vocabulary words, math equations or other pertinent information. Then, use these cards to informally quiz your child.

4. Use a planner. Give your child a calendar or school planner and help them write down all his or her assignments, due dates and other important information. This instills good organization habits that can be applied to other areas of life.

5. Know your child’s learning style. There are different types of learners: visual, audio, verbal and tactile. Once you know your child’s learning style, try to study using that style’s cues. For example, a visual learner trying to acquire vocabulary could benefit from seeing new words accompanied by pictures, while an audio or verbal learner may want to repeat new words and definitions out loud.

6. Study in a group. Working as a group not only lets kids learn from one another, but also builds social skills and interpersonal ties.

7. Entice procrastinators. Procrastinators would rather study and complete assignments later. Try combating procrastination by setting rewards; for example, let your child watch 30 minutes of TV for every hour he or she studies. Make the reward something to look forward to— but not so much that kids rush through work.

8. Make learning fun. For a young child, games, rhymes and activities are usually far more engaging than simple reading or the rote of memorization. Turn studying into an amusing activity to help them remember the material better, hold interest longer and associate studying with a positive experience.

9. Annotate. Teach your children the importance of annotating text. Highlight or underline crucial segments, and write brief summaries, explanations and other memory-triggering notes in the margins. This is a skill that, if learned young, will quickly be perfected and utilized well into higher education.

10. Know when enough is enough. It is possible for students to over study. Similarly, no student can learn if he or she is frustrated and losing focus. Know when your child has reached his or her limit— forced studying in these circumstances can actually have an adverse effect, causing unnecessary anxiety and resentment without comprehension of material.