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Learn how to juggle all your schoolwork with ease!
Does it seem like school just gets harder every year? More homework, heavier books, all that reading…and whatever happened to recess? Even if you’re a stellar student, it can be tough to keep up! Want to work smarter, not harder? Let us show you how.
1. Create a study space at home with no distractions. It may seem like a great idea to plop down in front of the TV with your notebook balanced on your knees—until you spend half an hour writing one sentence because you’ve gotten distracted by an episode of iCarly! A desk in your room stocked with paper, pencils, a calculator, a ruler, colored pencils, and everything else you might need is ideal. Is your “desk” the kitchen table? Put together a “homework box” with everything that you’re likely to need to complete your assignments. That way, you can quickly set up at the kitchen table, then pack everything away when you’re finished. Remember, the more focused and prepared you are, the less time studying will take.
2. Get organized. Don’t just jot down homework assignments on loose pieces of scrap paper—or, even worse, think you can remember them all! Get a planner instead. Then you can write all your assignments in one place, and all the tests you need to study for too. That way, you won’t have to waste time figuring out what needs to be done when study time rolls around, and you won’t miss anything. Also, get organized about your study habits. Set aside time every day for your homework. During the last 10 minutes or so, go over what you learned in class that day. If you review new information as you learn it, you won’t have to cram for tests at the last minute. Just think of all the stress you’ll save yourself!
3. Find out about your teachers. Do you have older siblings or friends in the grades above you? Ask for the scoop on your teachers. What do they look for? Maybe they get all their test questions from the things they go over in class, not from the book. Or maybe they love it when students volunteer for extra-credit projects. It’s easier to meet your teacher’s expectations when you know what she’s looking for. If you can’t find anyone to ask, or if the teacher is brand-new, set up a time to chat with her. Tell her how important it is to you to do well, and let her know you’re always willing to go the extra mile.
4. Become an active listener. Ever find yourself trying to listen to your teacher…but your brain keeps wandering off to Zac Efron, the after-school softball game, or Friday night’s slumber party? Staying focused can be hard when you’re not actively involved in the conversation. So get involved! If you don’t understand something, raise your hand and ask a question. Or just offer a comment—you don’t need to ask a question to talk. Class is a lot more interesting when you participate.
5. Learn to summarize. Have you ever read a new chapter in your social studies book and felt completely overwhelmed? How in the world are you supposed to know which parts are important? This is where summarizing comes in handy. Instead of looking for details to memorize, try to summarize the major points of the chapter. Once you have the basic ideas down, you can always go back and look for important details to remember.
6. Use games as much as you can! Did you ever see that Hannah Montana episode where she has a big biology test coming up? She has a really hard time remembering the bones in the human body, so she makes up a song with them all in it. Great idea! Another idea is to use a mnemonic device, which is something that associates a sound, a word, or an image with an idea. For example, you might create a phrase in which each letter stands for a word you need to know, like “Roy G. Biv” for remembering the colors in the spectrum (R = red, O = orange, Y = yellow, G = green, B = blue, I = indigo, and V = violet).
7. Sleep enough and eat well. When your parents claim you need at least eight hours of sleep a night, they’re not just trying to annoy you. Research shows that kids who don’t get enough sleep actually get lower grades than well-rested kids! As for food, you’ve probably heard it all before—always eat breakfast, have plenty of fruits and veggies, and don’t overdo it on sweets. But did you know that certain foods actually help your brain work better? Some of them are nuts, berries, and cheese. They’re also pretty tasty snacks!
8. Put down the book. You read that right—one of our study tips is to stop studying! Sometimes people stay up late before a test, trying to cram more information into their brains. That approach can backfire, though, leaving you exhausted, stressed out, and unable to do your best. The best students pay attention in class, set aside regular periods of time every day for homework, and make time for things they enjoy. It’s a lot easier to tackle challenges if you have an organized system in place—and school is full of challenges! Start by adopting good habits now, and you won’t have to give up your friends—or your life—to get ahead.
Originally printed in Discovery Girls magazine. Share this with your daughter.