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Parents can help kids learn good study habits

By Keryn Page

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents need to get an early start and stay involved when it comes to their children's education -- and their ability to develop good study skills.

Experts say parents can set a good learning example for their children to follow long before they reach school age.

"Parents should encourage their children to learn starting at birth," said Louise Davis, Extension associate professor of child and family development with Mississippi State University. "Reading to children is one of the best ways to instill a love of learning. Parents should also encourage their children's natural curiosity about the world by talking to them, listening to them and answering their questions."

Getting involved with children's education once they reach school age will show them that learning is a necessary and important part of life. Joining a parent-teacher organization or becoming involved with other school activities are good ways to stay involved.

"If parents believe their children's education is important enough for their involvement and attention, their children will take an interest too," Davis explained, adding that parents should get to know and communicate with their children's teachers. "Parents should talk to their children about what they're doing in school to reinforce the things they are learning."

The specialist offered the following study tips to help children maximize the potential of their study times:

  • Gather and organize all work materials before beginning to study.
  • Establish a consistent study time and routine.
  • Develop a positive attitude and consider schoolwork important.
  • Review information covered in class each day, even if there is no assigned homework.
  • Make a list in a daily planner or calendar of homework to be done each day.
  • Take short breaks periodically to remain focused on the task.
  • Study the most difficult subject first.

Children should do their own work and try to understand difficult concepts before seeking help. A customized study area is important.

"A good study area is well-lighted and furnished with supplies such as dictionaries, a clock, pens, pencils and paper," Davis advised.

Parents should keep in mind that a child's attention span varies depending on age, so the amount of time spent studying should also vary. Davis said younger children can study for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Older children can remain focused for longer periods of time.

"Also, avoid comparing your child's progress with another's because children progress at different rates," Davis said. "Parents should always try their best to be encouraging, and comparing your child -- favorably or unfavorably -- is not encouraging or helpful to anyone."

For more information on helping children develop good study habits, contact the local county Extension office.

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Released: July 7, 2003
Contact: Dr. Louise Davis, (662) 325-3083

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