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Get used to working alone

Studying is usually solitary work. If a child needs to be constantly busy in the company of other children, then that personality may not be naturally compatible with studying. It is not that a parent should try to convert a physically active and socially busy child to some sort of plodding monk, but part of the time, some quiet and solitary activity should be part of the child's life. One way is to encourage children to play with toys by themselves, such as puzzles, lego blocks or whatever might interest them. Hobbies where non-fiction reading is necessary to advance the skills involved is very good. Taking responsibility for care of a pet is another. Reading books about the pet emulates a research project.

Recreational reading is good, but there could be a problem

Teachers may say, it doesn't matter what you read, but just read something. True, reading something is probably better than not reading anything, but reading for pleasure is not the same as studying.

The requirements for reading some romance novel at the beach is not the same as reading an insurance contract, instructions on how to assemble a toy, or even a recipe book and not confusing the quantities for salt and sugar.

Reading and remembering exact facts, circumstances, quantities, names, and sequences is more like serious academic study. Academic studying is a very precise type of reading and requires a much higher level concentration and discipline.

Accurate reading cannot be done if the student didn't sufficiently obtain full reading skills in primary school. If problem areas such as reversals, confusing one letter for another, jumping from one line to another, an inability to quickly copy from the board and poor spelling were not fixed, then fast accurate academic study will be very difficult later.

Phase in the study habits

Just as the curriculum work difficulty level is phased in over years, so should the study behaviour. Parents need to plan for a quiet play time for young children which then flows into the physically passive environment for reading. The ideal is for parents to demonstrate by example by reading quietly, or working at a desk themselves, even if it is just reading the newspaper.

Television and computer or video games are not evil of themselves and kids should be allowed to enjoy these things. But these activities are not like reading a book which is in a completely different domain.


• Learning how to study is extremely important
• Brilliant high school students can fail at university
• Studying is solitary hard work
• A quiet place for study is necessary

Learning how to study

If parents have ambitions for their children to obtain academic success, one factor which becomes very important is the skill to effectively study. For most children, this definitely is not a natural thing to do. Effective studying involves considerable discipline, concentration, and hard work. And it is physically passive and is usually solitary work. These are not things that usually come natural to children.

The primary mechanisim for studying is simply... reading with comprehension. One rather casual description for academic success is to be able to "read, remember, and regurgitate". Although many educators will downplay the ritual and claim that a good understanding of the content is the goal, good understanding will never be acquired unless the rote facts are well known. You have to be able to read and remember before you can regurgitate.

The plain truth is that rote learning is absolutely essential in academics whether it is the a, b, c's in primary school, or all the parts of the anatomy in medical school. Usually the source of information to be learned is from text either from a book or more recently the internet. If a student can read, remember and regurgitate, he is well on his way to academic success.

Parents should watch out for the "brilliant" student who breezed through primary school with very good marks, prizes and so on. Just paying attention to the classroom lectures and doing the work while in school will often yield good marks for the "clever" students. However, as the student progresses into high school, the curriculum cannot be wholly learned just by attending school, and more and more independent study outside school is required. Still, some students can manage reasonable marks with little study at home.

However, the big shock will come at university, where often 10 chapters are assigned between lectures and the ability to "read, remember, and regurgitate" becomes absolutely essential. No longer are the student's general knowledge and the lectures good enough to pass the very challenging exams. Hours and hours of very concentrated study, taking past exams, doing examples and more study becomes necessary. If the "brilliant" high school student never developed good study habits, it very well may be too late to learn at this point and failure at university is quite likely.