8 Ways to Model Study Habits for Your Child

When you’re in school at the same time as your child, homework has a double meaning. You have your work and theirs, and to make sure that it all gets done, you have to be a role model and set the bar high. Though they may not do as you say, children will often do as you do—making your work ethic a priority. Demonstrating how to succeed, instead of just lecturing about it, will speak volumes.

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Make a Plan

Studying Together with Your Child - Shutterstock

Take the time to walk through your child’s lessons as soon as they know about any homework so you can anticipate their work needs on a daily basis. At the same time, scour your own syllabus so you have an idea of when your important assignments are due, how long readings are from week to week, and where classes will clash for attention (during finals for example). The more you know, the easier it will be to manage your time. Put it all on a large calendar posted on the wall if you can so that it’s easy to update.

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Turn It Off

Studying with Child - Westend61 - GettyImages-499162827
Westend61 - GettyImages-499162827

Make a ritual of turning off your phones (and if possible, your Wi-Fi) before getting down to work. It’s crucial to have no distractions. You can also disable push notifications, and email notifications on your computer (if you are working on a computer) so these will not sidetrack you. Whatever it is, it can wait until your study time is done.

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Pick a Place and a Time

Family Studying Together - JGI -Jamie Grill - Blend Images - GettyImages-519515573
JGI -Jamie Grill - Blend Images - GettyImages-519515573

Create a spot in your house that is purely for studying (even if it has to be the kitchen table in its off hours). Treat that place reverently—keep it clean, and make sure any materials you need are available nearby, including pens and paper. Then set an unwavering schedule, such as 6-8 p.m. nightly—no exceptions until the work is done. Make that time inviolable, even if homework is “done”—this is study time, not TV time or phone time, and that way there is no incentive to speed through. If there is no homework, make it reading time. If your homework is done, get started on a project for next week so you’re not procrastinating.

You’ll set your own rules and schedule that makes sense, but the secret to this is consistency. Make a schedule and stick to it. Check at the beginning of the week (Sunday night) to make sure that any disruptions of that time are taken into account beforehand. This is work time, like a job, so clock in and out, or have a good reason why you can’t.

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Take Breaks

Study Break - Bounce - Cultura - GettyImages-87990053
Bounce - Cultura - GettyImages-87990053

But don’t be draconian. Take a breather every 45 minutes or so, a full 10 minutes to get up and stretch, move around, have a little something to eat (maybe schedule dessert for that time and watch the new Star Wars trailer together). Set a timer so that you will be sure to remember to take a break, and set it again so that you’ll be sure to get back to work on time. Keep in mind that if the break turns from 10 to 15 minutes, it’s a slippery slope. Soon you’ll find the second half of your study period is all gone.

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Pick Your Battles

Studying Together at Home - Caiaimage - Tom Merton - GettyImages-544488885
Caiaimage - Tom Merton - GettyImages-544488885

There will be work that you simply can’t do with your child in the room. Consider what can get done and what needs to wait until after bedtime. For example, usually reading (and note taking) at the same time that your child is working is more productive than writing or memorization, because it is easier to move back and forth between your child's homework (what’s 22 + 7?) while reading without losing your train of thought, as that parenthetical just demonstrated. Save your readings for shared study time—they also usually mean less paper chasing so your child can focus without you throwing reference books around. 

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Share Your Frustrations

Dad Studying with Daughter - craftvision - E Plus - GettyImages-154930961
craftvision - E Plus - GettyImages-154930961

Even if you think your child won’t understand, sometimes it’s useful to talk something out. The best way to learn something is to teach it, and you might find that explaining a concept on a fifth-grade level will open your mind to answers you never thought of previously. And this is a great way to connect to your child and even open their minds to why you are going to school now and what you intend to accomplish.

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Practice Together for Tests and Quizzes

Dad and Sons Studying - Caiaimage - Tom Merton - GettyImages-544489159
Caiaimage - Tom Merton - GettyImages-544489159

Just as you would help your child with studying for their tests, if you have time, let him or her help you practice for yours with flashcards or other study materials. It always helps to have a study buddy. Practice tests are at great way to help your child how to stay calm on test day.

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Be Positive

Mom and Daughter Studying Together - Kevin Dodge - Blend Images - GettyImages-173809666
Kevin Dodge - Blend Images - GettyImages-173809666

The most important thing you can do is be upbeat about your studies. If you have a bitter attitude, it will rub off on your child. Be excited about what you are learning, even if it’s a bit of a struggle. Remind yourself that you aren’t doing this for nothing, but it’s an end to a means. And learning is its own reward. Try not to express despair, even if you are working on a frustrating class or assignment. Keep your eye on the prize and teach the next generation that studying is important.

Perhaps the best part about studying with your child is that it makes you both better students. By following these rules, you will create an atmosphere of studiousness and consistency in your home that any (adult or child) student can carry into later life. Happy studying!