At the beginning of this Back to School Series I asked what topics you would like me to write about, there were quite a few readers asking for tips on how to help high school kids, organise study time and their desks. As I don’t have teenagers myself I put the call out for somebody willing to offer their tips. Huge thank you to Maraya Bell from Stuff Mums Like for sharing this post below.
As the parent of two teenagers (starting year 8 and year 10 this year) I’ve discovered that instilling good homework/study routines and habits can be a lot harder than with primary kids. A huge reason is that once they reach high school you no longer correspond with their teacher (plus they have about 10 rather than just the one class teacher). Instead you have to rely on them to pass on the information about when exams are on, assignments due, and if they even have homework that night! With this in mind I hope you enjoy my tips below.
Top tips to get your teens to hit the books
1. Technology free time
Allocate a time period in the afternoon/evening that is technology free. All iPhones, iPads, game consoles and various screens must be relinquished at this time so your teenagers can focus with out the distraction of texts and so on.
2. Computer in the lounge room
Keeping the family computer in the lounge room means you can keep an eye on what they’re researching, as well as offer guidance and suggestions while they work. It also means that you wont find them on facebook or getting distracted on the internet. If your teens use a laptop for school to do their work then make sure you turn off the internet so they are only using it as a word processor during study time.
3. A dedicated study area
Nothing is less conducive to study than a desk covered with stuff! Make sure your teen has a space where they can work. For my daughter we selected a hutch desk that has a pin board at the back. The shelves on the hutch give her a place to store trinkets and dressing table items (because she doesn’t have space in her room for a dressing table as well), and the notice board on the back means she can pin up exam schedules and assessment due dates. Year 7 was a huge learning curve for her last year and making sure she was on top off all the subjects and the teacher’s expectations was very important to make the transition as smooth as possible.
4. Encouraging ‘self-learning’
Schools assign homework so that children develop the ability to self learn. The idea is that they can research and learn independently, and this is a huge part of growing up. It is important that you give your teen the space and opportunity to develop their research, writing and time management skills. While it might be tempting to sit with them, colour coding their notes and guiding them through the work (especially if they are studying your favourite subject!) you aren’t doing them any favours. They need to prepare for the HSC, and university in particular, where self-learning is essential.
5. Don’t push them too hard
The fastest way to get your teen to stop studying efficiently is to push too hard. Remember that they need down time as well. They have a long day at school and it’s important to balance homework and study time with sport and leisure activities. By allocating set study times you are outlining your expectations and (hopefully) this will mean less nagging! But make sure they take regular breaks and that they don’t go over the allocated time to often because, although they are putting in the hours, their ability to retain information will be lost.
Before school goes back here are some things you can do to get organised:
- Clear out the desks, throwing out old stationery that doesn’t work, selling or putting away the last years text books and refreshing the space after being in holiday mode.
- Set up the desk ready for work. Make pens, books, computer etc easy to access so that your teen isn’t breaking concentration looking for things they need.
- Prepare a homework planner to print out. Each week have them fill in the planner with homework and assignment and then have them pin it somewhere they can see it easily.
- Create somewhere they leave their phones etc each day during study time- a tub, a basket- what ever works for you.
- Use a family planner/calendar so that they can see what is coming up during the week for the family, such as family events, which might interfere with their regular schedule so that they can plan their time accordingly.
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About Maraya Bell
Maraya Bell is a freelance writer, publicist, and blogger- with two teenagers, a toddler and a passion for parties! She runs Stuff mums Like, a product review blog for mums, and Little Party Love, the only Australian based website that showcases party ideas, DIY, recipes, trends as well as a national party directory.