Studying is one of the most difficult skills to master at any level of schooling. From huge exams to short quizzes, developing a study plan and implementing it takes practice and discipline.
Sometimes, though, the problem is more than knowing how to study – it’s knowing how to get started.
So whether your child is coming up on a major maths exam or a history essay, here are a few tips you can use to help them get motivated and study.
Start small, work in chunks
Forcing oneself to start studying is great, because that helps you build up momentum.
But if it’s a huge exam you’re trying to study for, you can lose that momentum easily if you study for 10 minutes and only move through a couple pages of a single chapter.
Instead, recognise that the way to move through that larger whole is in small pieces. Force the start, but work in shorter time increments as you begin.
Some strategies like the Pomodoro Technique have you focus on a task in 20- or 25-minute increments – but you can start even smaller than that.
It’s amazing how good you’ll feel after studying for just five minutes – and that momentum can carry over, fuelling your motivation.
Even once you manage to get started, it can be very easy to get distracted.
From mobile devices to televisions to loud conversations, our surroundings tend to be full of excuses for doing anything other than the task at hand.
Because of that, it’s important to find a good, peaceful study spot, and to silence or turn off mobile phones.
Studying outside can be a great option for finding peace, but make sure it’s somewhere relatively out of the way – the last thing you want when sitting down to study is to run into your friends!
Move away from textbooks
Learning is fun, but you’d never know it if you only ever read textbooks.
They’re written in dry prose, become outdated quickly, and teach in a rigid and structured way that’s not always the right method for presenting information.
You can read more about why textbooks aren’t the greatest tools for studying from this source, but the important takeaway for the unmotivated student is to find a more exciting way to learn.
Rather than simply rereading material, it’s important to engage with it, asking questions and following up on things you don’t understand.
A fun – and quite modern – way to learn dryer material like maths is to find educational videos on YouTube.
Simply search for the concepts you’re meant to master for your exam and you’ll find plenty of quality sources available, with instructors far better equipped than any textbook.
It might seem counterintuitive, but even once you motivate yourself to start studying it’s important to take occasional breaks.
This works well in conjunction with the above advice to break up your time, but it also just helps your learning.
In general, it’s impossible to focus on a single task effectively for more than an hour at a time, let alone the multiple hours needed to study for a major exam.
Taking regular breaks – and rewarding yourself during them – can be a great way to maintain your momentum instead of hitting a wall where you simply can’t study anymore.
While you may feel silly doing it, doing quick exercises at your desk every so often can reenergise you and help keep you focused on studying.
It doesn’t have to be exercising at your desk – simply reminding yourself to get up and move around every so often is good enough, as something as brief as a five-minute walk can help a great deal.
You can make bigger moves, too – that is, change up your study area if your regular workspace isn’t helping you to be productive.
Just the effort of relocating from your bedroom to the local library can put you in a productive mood and get you working.
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