Studying is difficult without structure, but it doesn’t have to be. As a parent, you’ve raised your child to be dedicated and hard-working, but often, without a study plan, they won’t have an easy way to achieve their best.
Whether helping your child with an important exam or simply looking to help them get organised for their studies, creating an effective study plan is critical.
Learn about every facet of creating a study plan, from understanding your child’s learning style to setting goals and overcoming hurdles that may arrive on the way. Let’s jump in!
How to Make a Study Plan
One of the finest tools in your academic toolkit is a study plan. But what exactly is a study plan, and how do you make one? Let us take you through every step.
Assessing Your Child’s Learning Style
Start with the VARK model. This model puts your child into one of the four main types: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.
- Visual learners work best with charts, graphs, diagrams, and maps. These aids make it easier for them to grasp complicated concepts. Colour-coded notes, markers, and organised graphics appeal to visual learners. These tools help them categorise and retain information. Mind maps and flow charts are the perfect tools to manage information.
- Auditory learners understand information best when presented verbally. They thrive in environments like lectures, discussions, and audio materials like podcasts and audiobooks.
- Reading/Writing learners prefer to express their thoughts in writing. Journaling, essay writing, and note-making are everyday activities for them.
- Kinesthetic learners excel in learning by doing. They benefit from actively participating in experiments, projects, and interactive activities.
Setting SMART Goals
SMART stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely.” This system is a neat way to organise your child’s goals so that they achieve them and build skills that are relevant to the working world.
A specific goal answers the questions of what, why, who, where, and how. This clarity helps individuals and teams focus their efforts and resources on achieving the desired outcome.
Incorporate countable indicators for fair assessment. Use scores and stars, or make it fun with emojis. Using this, you can make changes based on how your child is coping and celebrate milestones when they reach them.
Attainable goals are essential for keeping your child motivated. Ensure they are within reason, but still push your child to improve and surpass their limits. You know what they are capable of. This point is critical when your child studies for exams, as a more reachable goal reduces stress.
The outcome of the goal should matter to your child. If you set a high goal in a subject area, your child is not interested in. They may need more motivation to reach it. It should be relevant to their broader aspirations and personality as well.
Deadlines are vital for keeping track of progress and seeing the end of a task or goal. Your child should know where they should be at a certain point so they can shift between achieving goals and leisure time.
Effective Note-Taking Methods
The outline method involves creating a ladder system of headings and essential points. This method helps your child see how all the points are connected. When they use this method, finding the most critical ideas is more manageable, and they can quickly check their notes when they need to study later.
The Cornell note-taking method makes your child think about their notes as they go along, rather than just jotting things down. Split the notebook into three parts: on the right side are all the crucial details, like the main ideas. On the left side, words or cues that help your child remember what they wrote on the right side. These cues are like hints that make studying easier later. And at the bottom is a mini-summary of what they learned on that page.
The boxing method splits topics and sub-topics into boxes. Each box will have a set of points, questions and study materials for your child to review when test time comes. This method works well for writing and visual learners, as the latter can add colour to the boxes and drawings as they go along.
The Mapping Method of note-taking is a visual way to organise information. Instead of writing things in a list, your child draws a map. They can use bubbles, squares or whatever clever way they come up with to contain facts and connect these facts with arrows. It’s a great way to symbolise connections between points and brainstorm.
Read more: Fun & Engaging Memory Games for Kids
Milestones and practice tests are a great way to measure how your child is progressing. It also helps you to gauge your child’s strengths and weaknesses and adjust your study plan accordingly.
Practising can take many forms. Try incorporating different methods into your study plan to keep things fresh and measure your child’s progress effectively. Here are some common ones:
- Flashcards: Create flashcards with questions or terms on one side and answers or definitions on the other. Use them to quiz your child on essential points. Flashcards are particularly helpful for memorising facts and vocabulary.
- Active Recall: This method involves actively testing your child on the study material. Close the notes or textbook, and have them try to recall key facts, concepts, and information from memory. It’s an excellent way to reinforce their learning.
- Practice Problems: For subjects like math and science, solving practice problems is essential. It is a fantastic way to build problem-solving skills and allow them to apply concepts instead of just learning them.
- Teaching Others: Explaining concepts to someone else, even if it’s an imaginary audience, is a powerful way to solidify your child’s understanding. Teaching gets them to articulate ideas clearly and get them down on paper when they are tested.
- Use technology: There are many software options for E-learning in South Africa. Use digital tools like note-taking apps, online research databases, and educational apps like iRainbow to streamline the study process.
The study location is critical for keeping focused. Keep the environment dedicated to studying with as few distractions as possible.
Study groups are a great way to teach your child responsibility and independence. Your child will know when they must study and will be more likely to do it because the study group is counting on them. It’s like teamwork but for learning! Plus, it helps your child build good study habits because they get into a routine. It also promotes active learning and sharing resources, boosts confidence and deepens their understanding of the subject.
Short breaks allow your brain to rest and are especially important for kids. The Pomodoro technique is one of the best ways to maximise study time and prevent burnout. Set a timer for 25 minutes and allow your child to take a 5-minute break between sessions. Let them take an extended 15-30 minute break after every four sessions.
Final Thoughts On Creating A Study Plan
It’s vital to reflect on your study plan after exams or tests. Look back at the goals you set at the beginning. Did your child achieve everything you wanted them to? If not, that’s okay! What’s important is figuring out why they didn’t reach those goals.
Think about what got in the way or what they found difficult. Maybe they needed more time for a specific subject, or your child got distracted. Reflecting on this helps make a study plan even better for the next time.
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