3 Secret Study Tips Every Parent should Know About

Written by Dr Lucy Russell DClinPsyc CPsychol AFBPsS
Dr Lucy Russell Clinical Psychologist Founder of They Are The Future
Author: Dr Lucy Russell, Clinical Psychologist

As a parent, you understand the importance of effective study habits. They are crucial for your child’s academic success. Yet, finding the right study techniques can be daunting.

It’s not just about long hours with books. It’s about studying smart.

In this article I explore some unique strategies.

These methods go beyond traditional study techniques. They are not only for securing good grades. They aim to develop a deeper understanding and a love for learning.

a young man sitting at a desk studying

The learning landscape has evolved and its hard for students to know the best way to study. It now includes a variety of techniques for different styles and preferences. From engaging mind maps to focused concentration methods, these tips are transformative. Remember, each child is unique. What works for one may not for another.

I want to guide you to help your child to find their most effective way to learn during their study time.

Unveiling Diverse Study Secrets

Every child learns differently, and unlocking their academic success requires exploring a spectrum of strategies. The strategies I’m going to share with you are, in my opinion, hidden gems. They can lead to significant improvements in academic performance. 

You can empower your child by incorporating these methods into their study routine, paving the way for reaching their full potential.

tween girl studying at a desk

Study Secret 1: Embrace Mind Maps and Visual Aids for Clarity

Mind maps are a dynamic way to visually connect ideas and expose their hidden relationships. 

Start by having your child place the main concept or topic in the center of their study materials, using a blank sheet of paper. 

Then, watch as they branch out with related concepts, adding color, images, and symbols to strengthen those connections. 

This approach empowers visual learners to grasp complex subjects with ease and improves recall the next time they encounter the material.

Visual aids, including charts, graphs, and diagrams, break down information into manageable chunks, making them easier to understand. 

Encourage your child to create these visual representations of key points from their lessons. These tools become invaluable for summarizing information and aiding in quick recall during exams – a surefire way to boost confidence and performance.

TAKE THE QUIZ!

Study Secret 2: Use Specific Focus Techniques Beyond Pomodoro

Concentration forms the heart of effective studying. While the Pomodoro Technique, involving 25-minute bursts of focus followed by 5-minute breaks, is fantastic for some students, numerous less-common approaches deserve consideration:

  • Time Blocking: Allocate specific time slots to different subjects, creating a balanced study schedule that eliminates last-minute cram sessions. Sometimes it’s helpful to color-code blocks of time throughout your day. Each subject has a color, and rest or exercise periods are a different color again.
  • Strategic Breaks: Intersperse regular, short breaks within study sessions. This allows the brain to rest, process newly acquired information, and reset for the next wave of knowledge acquisition.
  • Active Recall: Encourage your child to go beyond passive reading. Ask them questions about the material, prompting them to explain concepts as if teaching a friend. This active engagement deepens understanding and improves recall, solidifying knowledge through practice.

The Science Behind Regular Study Breaks

Interspersing regular, short breaks within study sessions is beneficial for several scientific reasons:

  1. Preventing Cognitive Overload: The human brain has a limited capacity for new information at any given time. Continuous studying can lead to cognitive overload, where the brain is overwhelmed with information, making it difficult to process and retain new knowledge. Breaks help prevent this overload.
  2. Memory Consolidation: The process of forming long-term memories involves transferring information from short-term to long-term memory, a process known as consolidation. Breaks allow the brain time to process and consolidate the information learned, enhancing memory retention.
  3. Attention Restoration: Sustained attention on a single task can lead to mental fatigue, reducing the ability to concentrate and absorb information. Short breaks help restore attentional capacity, making subsequent study periods more effective.
  4. Stress Reduction: Continuous studying can increase stress levels, which can negatively impact learning and memory. Breaks provide a mental respite, reducing stress and improving overall well-being, which is conducive to better learning.
  5. Incorporating Diffuse Thinking: There are two modes of thinking – focused and diffuse. Focused thinking is when you concentrate on a specific task, while diffuse thinking occurs when your mind wanders freely. Breaks allow for diffuse thinking, which can lead to creative problem-solving and the integration of new ideas.
  6. Enhancing Neural Connections: Learning involves forming and strengthening neural connections. Breaks can help in this process by allowing the brain time to strengthen these connections, leading to better understanding and recall of the information.
  7. Habituation Reduction: Continuous exposure to the same type of stimulus can lead to habituation, where the brain becomes accustomed to the stimulus and pays less attention to it. Breaks help to reset this process, making the brain more receptive to new information after the break.

Study Secret 3: Personalised Study Environment

Building a structured and effective study routine and creating an environment conducive to effective study are both vital for academic success. 

Here’s how to create a productive study routine and environment for your child:

  1. Adapt to Their Learning Styles: Recognize and honor your child’s unique learning preferences. Auditory learners might thrive with recorded lectures, while visual learners benefit from detailed diagrams and concise written notes. Kinesthetic learners excel when engaging in hands-on activities and experiments, bringing concepts to life.
  2. Blending Study Styles: Encourage your child to explore a multi-faceted approach, mixing different study methods for optimal learning. Mnemonic devices, such as catchy acronyms or rhymes, can aid memory. Challenge them to create personal mnemonics for complex formulas, historical dates, or scientific terms.
  3. The Power of Explaining: Maximise the benefits of the “teach-to-learn” method by having your child explain a concept to you (or another student) in their own words. This solidifies their understanding and improves recall, revealing any knowledge gaps that need attention.
  4. Infuse Physical Activity: Regular physical activity improves blood flow to the brain, enhancing memory and concentration. Encourage activities ranging from sports to simple exercise routines like walking or cycling.
  5. Prioritize Rest: Adequate sleep is crucial for cognitive processes. During deep sleep, the brain consolidates newly acquired information, making it readily available for recall. Ensure your child gets around 8 hours of sleep each night to reap the benefits of a well-rested mind.

Creating a Positive Study Environment

Creating a conducive study environment is crucial for effective learning, going beyond simply finding a quiet space:

  1. Establish a Dedicated Study Area: Choose a space free from distractions, organized and quiet. Consider factors such as lighting, comfortable seating, and minimal noise.
  2. Embrace Routine: Set specific study times, fostering discipline and establishing clear boundaries between study and leisure.
  3. Motivational Magic: Introduce inspirational quotes, a reward system, or set achievable goals to keep morale high and reduce stress.
  4. Nurture a Positive Attitude: Encourage your child to maintain a positive mindset towards studying. Offer support and understanding, celebrating their hard work, efforts, and progress, not just focusing on outcomes.
close up of a teenage boy wearing headphones

Effective Study Methods Case Study: Alex (16)

Let’s discuss Alex, a 16-year-old high school student facing some academic challenges.

Initial Poor Study Habits

Alex, like many teens, struggled with focus and information retention. His initial approach to studying was passive. Mostly it involved reading and taking notes, without a structured plan. He often found himself distracted, especially by social media, which impacted his ability to grasp and remember key concepts.

Implementing New Study Strategies

Alex’s transformation began with a shift in his study methods:

  1. Mind Maps for Visual Learning: Alex started using mind maps to visually connect ideas. This method helped him see the bigger picture and understand how different concepts were interlinked, making complex subjects more digestible.
  2. Time Blocking for Focused Study: Instead of studying sporadically, Alex began using time blocking. He allocated specific periods to study different subjects. This approach helped him manage his time better and reduced the feeling of being overwhelmed.
  3. Active Learning for Deeper Understanding: Alex also adopted active learning techniques. Instead of passively reading, he engaged more interactively with the material. He practiced explaining concepts in his own words, participated in group discussions, and applied what he learned in practical tasks. This not only improved his understanding but also his retention of the information.

Positive Changes in Study Habits and Results

These new strategies led to a noticeable improvement in Alex’s academic performance. His grades improved, and he felt more confident in his abilities. Alex became more engaged in his studies and developed a genuine interest in learning.

Wider Effects of Improved Study Habits

Alex’s family noticed the change. They saw how adopting these new study techniques made a difference in his academic and personal life. His parents observed that Alex was less stressed and more organized.

Alex himself felt that these strategies made learning more enjoyable and less of a chore.

3 Secret Study Tips: Conclusions

In this article I have explored the most effective strategies to enhance learning, stay enthusiastic and keep focused. These include adapting to learning styles, using mind maps, personalised focus techniques, and ensuring physical well-being.

As you have seen in Alex’s case, these methods can lead to remarkable improvements in academic performance.

Each child’s journey is unique though. It’s about finding the right combination of techniques that work best for your child.

With your support and the right tools, your child can achieve their full academic potential.

Frequently Asked Questions: Effective Study Habits

How long should study sessions be?

This varies. Typically, 25-50 minutes of focused study, followed by a 5-10 minute break, works well.

Can these study techniques be used for younger children?

Absolutely! Adjust the techniques to suit their attention span and learning style.

How can I help my child discover their learning style?

Observe how they interact with different types of information. Experiment with various teaching methods to see what resonates best.

Are group study sessions effective?

Yes, especially when combined with individual study. Group sessions can enhance understanding through discussion and explanation.

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Dr Lucy Russell is a UK clinical psychologist who works with children and families. Her work involves both therapeutic support and autism assessments. She is the Clinical Director of Everlief Child Psychology, and also worked in the National Health Service for many years. In 2019 Lucy launched They Are The Future, a support website for parents of school-aged children.

Through TATF Lucy is passionate about giving practical, manageable strategies to parents and children who may otherwise struggle to find the support they need.

Lucy is a mum to two teenage children. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children, rescue dog and three rescue cats. She enjoys caravanning and outdoor living, singing and musical theatre.

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