Time for a New Semester at School; Time for a Fresh Start

By The Study Hall | Feb 05, 2019


Rockport, ME - It is the time of the year when students will come home either with elation about their grades and the work they have done over the semester, or it is the time of year when kids will walk in the door and run to their rooms to avoid having to talk about why they haven’t done as well as they had hoped. Whether your child is in either group, or somewhere in the middle, the good news is that a new semester is at hand, and it is a great time to think about study habits, organization, which subjects may be a bit more challenging, and make a fresh start for second semester.  Now is the time to make some positive changes to help with success.

If your child is in the “could be doing a bit better” category, there are many things that can be done to help turn things around.  Usually students tend not to do as well if organization, study habits, or lack of prior knowledge is an issue.

When it comes to organization, students should all have a Day-planner to write down all assignments and when they are due.  Too many students try to keep everything in their heads, and with between 6-8 classes, this is a lot of memorization.  By getting used to writing down assignments and checking them nightly while doing homework, assignments won’t fall through the cracks as easily.

To go along with organization, students should be keeping a binder of some sort that will allow them to take notes, collect assignments and important papers, and to keep their work after it is graded.  A binder with dividers is even better for this.  Some students don’t think it is important to keep old quizzes, work, or tests, but it is.  While reviewing later for semester exams, these are one of the first things they should be using to review.  It also helps just in case a teacher forgets to enter a grade; you will have assignments handy to make any corrections.

Study habits are also important to success.  Students should really think about where they study and what is going on around them.  Do they do homework in their room while listening to music, talking on the phone, and surfing the internet, all while trying to read or write an essay?   Do they do it in the t.v. room while they watch their favorite shows? Realistically, the more distractions surrounding students while they study makes them take longer to get the work done, possibly lowers the quality of work, and doesn’t help with retention or understanding of what they are supposed to be studying. Most students enjoy doing work in their rooms, but they should keep distractions to a minimum.

Part of studying includes HOW they study.  Some students do the start and stop approach, some do the staggered approach, while others do one thing at a time.  The start and stop approach is to start an assignment, stop to get a snack, start again, stop to talk on the phone, start again, stop to watch t.v., etc.  This method forces students to take forever to get assignments done, forces them to go back over what they had done to see where they left off so they may continue again, and often creates a situation where they just rush to get it finished.  The staggered approach is when they start one assignment for one subject, stop, start another assignment for another subject, stop, go back to the first, stop, perhaps start a third subject.  As one can imagine, this means their brains are working overtime to keep information straight and means they have a bunch of assignments started but not completed.  At the end of the night, they may rush what they started or simply hand in incomplete work.  This is not the best method if efficiency and timeliness is important.  The third approach is a much better approach.

A better approach to studying is to take assignments one at a time and complete them at one sitting or perhaps two (sometimes we need a break and a fresh start). By  being methodical and competing assignments in a timely manner, this leads to less stress and more efficient work.  This being said, the order students do their work is key as well.  Most students do the easiest things first, then leave the longest or most time consuming assignment for last; however, a good idea is to do the assignment that will take the longest first, and then do the quicker assignment after. The reason for this is that most often the longer assignments count more toward the students’ grades than the quicker ones.  Also, if a student ends up short on time, it is easier to do the shorter assignments in study hall at school than the longer ones that may take more then the time allotted in study hall.

A third aspect to student success is making sure they are learning all along the way.  If a student skips assignments, that often means they will not retain the knowledge the assignment was trying to teach them.  For example, if a student skips several math assignments, then it makes sense that he or she will struggle as the material progresses.  By skipping the reading or work, students actually create gaps in their learning.  They way our brains take in new knowledge is by attaching the new information to existing or prior knowledge.  If that prior knowledge doesn’t exist, the student will have trouble learning the new material.  Students must do each assignment, take good notes in class, ask questions, and really pay attention so they will create a solid base of prior knowledge and help themselves to learn new information.

Poor or lower grades are often the result of many different factors, but organization, study skills, and the ability to take in new information are all important pieces.  If any one of these is out of whack, then a student’s grade could suffer.  Fortunately, there are many ways to help with these areas, and students do not have to do it alone.  The Study Hall has tutors who can help students with their organization and study skills, as well as tutors to guide students in their individual subject areas. Tutors can help to fill the gaps created by missing assignments or areas that are a challenge for the student.  Now is the time for students to make these positive changes and learn a new way to approach their studies.  A little help can often produce profound results.

For more information about The Study Hall and their services, please contact Marci Casas at 236-3949 or visit them on the web at thestudyhall.com.



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