New challenges and proven strategies to meet them
Students this year have faced many new challenges, which has heightened the pressure for them to become independent learners and to structure their time well. What are the skills needed to do this effectively?
Study skills are the tools needed for adolescents’ academic success. These skills are not innate, but they are rarely taught in middle and high school when students need them most. As we parents know from experience, every adolescent is different, and no two develop these skills in the same way or over the same amount of time. Even students who have gotten by on their academic talent and intelligence will now need to put these skills into play.
I’ve unpacked the skills needed now for our students and provided one specific strategy for each category.
Students need to manage assignments from each class and create an integrated schedule to keep up with self-directed online class time and homework assignments. Deadlines for papers and projects need to be monitored. And almost everyone is fighting the battle against procrastination (I am fighting that battle as I write this). Students perform their best when they have sufficient time to complete assignments, not under the adrenaline rush of the all-nighter. Creating a well-managed schedule is one step on the path to success.
Pro-tip: Students who procrastinate should set earlier deadlines for projects and papers (1-2 days before the actual due date). This reframe can help the student ensure the work is completed on time and with less panic. Another effective way to reduce procrastination is to break down the work into more manageable pieces.
Prioritizing and Goal Setting
Your student needs clarity about how to balance competing activities and demands. They achieve this by assessing each project and determining the steps to be done to accomplish it. If this is a challenge, especially with the added stress of the current situation, an Academic Manager can teach your student these skills and coach them through their specific projects, while helping them to establish short-term and long-term goals.
Pro tip: Longer assignments can be broken into steps and each step assigned a priority status and a deadline. If a paper is due in 6 weeks, the rough draft must be written in the 5th week, the notes and quotes for the paper must be completed in the fourth week, sources selected in the third week, and so on. Studies have shown goals are achieved at a significantly higher rate when they are in writing.
Students need to establish a study space and a system for keeping books, assignments, and online resources organized. Instead of backpacks and brightly colored folders, students need webpage bookmarks, organized email in-boxes, and a way to confirm the sending and receipt of assignments.
Pro-tip: Use your phone’s calendar feature to set aside specific time daily or weekly to organize your physical and electronic space. The phone’s reminder alert feature can also be helpful. Clear out old emails, update to-do lists or reminders, etc.
This is the “secret sauce” that can turn good students into great students! No one tells our teenagers the best methods for taking notes, reading textbooks (hint: highlighting is not all it’s cracked up to be), and studying for tests. This skill set includes staying focused and managing concentration by planning breaks.
Pro-tip: Take notes!! Whether you type or handwrite notes, the act of capturing what you are hearing will allow you to better remember it. Use bold colors and underlines to emphasize what the teacher emphasizes.
How we can help
If your student is feeling challenged or stressed-out meeting their academic demands, one of our experienced Academic Managers can teach and coach them in the development of these skills for the future. We also have a cadre of highly qualified academic subject and AP tutors if your student needs help with a specific area.