Did you know, children who present with executive function problems are more likely to struggle academically as they grow? No one is inherently born with executive function study skills, instead these are skills that are developed – or explicity taught – over time.
Often, however, elementary, middle, and even high schools can not adequately prepare their students with the executive function skills necessary to succeed against the rigor of the academic curriculum.
Below are some steps you can take to help support your student.
Why Early Intervention Is Best
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to be interested and engaged with your child’s studying efforts, whether they’re in elementary school or near graduation.
While early intervention is best, there is no time limit on when you can teach executive function skills and strategies. At any time, explicit instruction will help them meet their academic goals through better studying as well as set them up for prolonged success.
In the early stages, teach your child that schoolwork is a priority and that most learning happens in the class. Studying and homework are only meant to enhance their understanding of the subject. It reinforces their learning and is a valuable part of the process, but significant focus needs to go into being engaged in class.
One of the best ways you can grow this interest is by asking them what they’re learning at school and what work they need to accomplish at home. Many schools offer online portals to help parents keep up with what’s going on. However, getting your child to reiterate their needs to you cements it in their own minds as well.
Once you have a sense of what your child is doing, it will be easier to spot when they are potentially falling behind. It is possible to engage without being overbearing. Don’t assume that they don’t know what to do. Help them learn to “take the lead” and rather than ask “do you have homework?”, ask “What work do you have to do today?” Rather than ask them if they have started their work, ask them “what piece of work might be easiest to start with?” to help them get over the initiation challenge.
Shaping the Behavior You Want to See
There are plenty of things you can do in the early stages of development to make sure you’re setting your child up for success. If they struggle with reading, read with them read to build confidence.
If they struggle with English or writing skills, help them by incorporating a wide variety of unfamiliar words into your own vocabulary. Answer their questions as best as you can when they ask what something means and praise them for their curiosity.
You can also help teach study skills that you want to see. Helping your student go through detailed instructions and breaking them into chunks will help your child learn task management. Providing step-by-step guides to show them how to break problems down into manageable activities will help them from getting overwhelmed.
Helping Your Child Grow Their Study Skills
Studying isn’t just about sitting down and reviewing notes. A significant part of effective studying is knowing what to study and when it needs to happen. You can achieve this through teaching your child effective organization skills.
Teach them to use daily planners and help them make notes of important things that need to be done. Make a household calendar and have them write their own tasks into it so they get into the habit of being proactive.
For younger children, learn to make education as engaging as you can. Use rewards, color-coded assignments, and activities, as well as games that get them excited to take part. Good habits take time to develop.
Some factors to consider for establishing a good framework for habit growth:
- Set up conducive environments
- Establish checklists
- Success through organization
- Implement rewards systems
- Minimize distractions
Regarding environment and location, a calm and peaceful atmosphere is going to facilitate better focus. When we enter certain spaces, our subconscious is already processing our typical behavior in these areas. This is one reason why studying in bed is not a good idea.
The Practical Side of Studying
During study times, try to minimize distractions as much as possible. If you have younger children, keep them busy elsewhere. Turn off the TV and move away from any mobile devices. If they need to use a laptop, there are plenty of measures you can both take to make sure they stay focused and on task.
For example, you can place temporary blocks on certain websites with apps like Offtime and Flipd.
Ensure they have all the tools they need like stationary, healthy snacks, and plenty of water. Make sure they know it’s important to take regular but short breaks. This keeps the brain fresh and able to focus for longer periods of time.
It’s also important to stress that your child should complete one project or task at a time, rather than trying to multitask. When we multitask, nothing gets the attention it deserves.
Finally, encourage a growth mindset in your child. Help them reverse negative thought patterns and steer them towards positive affirmations.
Making your child aware of what they’re aiming to achieve and rewarding all positive movement towards their goal is important. When they hit certain benchmarks, reward their efforts. The benchmarks don’t need to be major achievements, just anything that shows they are on the path to develop positive habits. Remember to praise the “process” not the result.
Studying Like a Pro
At The StudyPro, our focus is singular. We understand and believe that your child can be an independent and motivated learner.
Check out our study skills and strategies course if you need a little help teaching your child how to learn and how to study well.