Kids shine best academically when at least one of their parents is engaged in their learning. Helping your 10-year-old child learn to study is a great way to set him or her up for academic success in middle school, high school, and beyond.
Should you help your 10-year-old child with studying? In a word – yes. But more than that, it’s most helpful to teach your child good study habits so that they learn to study more independently over time. Helpful tips include: set aside time and set a quiet environment for homework; be available for questions about interpreting homework instructions; offer guidance; and review answers. Refrain from providing your child with actual homework answers, but asking prompting questions can be beneficial to probe a little deeper. If the answer is still incorrect or not in depth enough, allow for this. Learning from their mistakes is an essential part of the learning process.
In helping my own daughter with homework and studying, I did quite a bit of research and learned about common challenges and ways to help improve study habits. As a result, my daughter’s grades increased and she showed a more in-depth level of learning – while enjoying the process to the greatest extent possible.
Helpful Tips to Set the Scene
Preparing the scene for your child’s success is the first step to ensure s/he has the best opportunity for learning throughout the day – both in school and when studying at home. Use the following tips to help:
A good breakfast – You want your child to have enough energy throughout his/her school day to be able to pay attention in class and take meaningful notes. That way, when it comes time to study, they have the right foundation for success. Have your child start the day with a breakfast that includes whole grains, protein, and something low in sugar. If you’re running late, send nutritious snacks to eat on the go – fruit and nuts, yogurt (low in sugar), or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich are good examples. This will help keep their concentration, memory, and attention span sharp.
Getting enough sleep – Kids this age need about 10-12 hours’ sleep each night. Without the proper amount of sleep, they may have trouble concentrating, be fidgety in class, or have trouble staying awake. By the time s/he is scheduled to study, without enough sleep as a foundation, your child may start to fade before studying or homework gets done. (Then you may hear requests for just a quick nap, which often leads to sleeping overnight and the work not getting done at all or rushing through it in the early morning.) Ensuring your child is getting enough sleep in the first place is the best strategy.
Teach organization skills –This is easier for kids than for others. Some are naturally organized, while others struggle with this. Work with your child to ensure s/he can learn to stay as organized as possible. Having (and using!) a calendar to record when assignments are due is helpful. Or even a folder for each class can help. The idea is to teach your child to write down assignments during class and then follow up at home. Note taking during class is also something that will help when studying after hours.
Talk to your child about the process they use for taking notes and offer suggestions to improve this if it seems necessary. You can start out helping your child to manage this by checking his or her assignments each school night to ensure they’re on the right track. Slowly, as you see that your child has this under control, you can step back and allow them to take more responsibility for managing their homework and studying.
Create a schedule – Setting a consistent study/homework schedule is a good way to ensure things get done. Ensure that your child knows expectations and work together to set a schedule that works. For example, if your child is starving when s/he gets home each day, it may be good to set a schedule that homework/studying happens right after an after-school snack – before any leisure activities.
Or perhaps your child tends to need some down time and does better studying and doing homework later in the evening. Figure out what works best for your child, taking into account times when you are available to help (and not usually distracted with other things), and then stay consistent with it. If the plan doesn’t seem to be working, adjust the schedule to see if that helps create better results.
Environment – Most kids needs a quiet space and place for studying/homework, while others prefer to study and do homework with music in the background. Talk to your child about the best environment for him or her and then ensure the environment is most conducive to what you see working over time.
In general, it’s a good idea to avoid screen time during studying and doing homework, unless a computer or phone is needed for the actual assignments to be completed. As your child becomes more independent and organized in their study habits, you might offer a “kids only” space for them to study, read, or do homework.
This can be a fort, a tree house, even space in a bedroom closet cleared out and furnished with pillows and blankets – just a space that seems “fun” and just for them. (The closet idea was a huge hit for our daughter who enjoyed using a flashlight and being snuggled up in a quiet space while reading and studying.)
Making learning fun is a key to successful academic success.
Avoid Overscheduling – These days, overscheduling is a common challenge for kids to get their studying and homework done with any consistent schedule. Whether it’s theatre, music lessons, sports, or other after-school and weekend activities, it can be too much for a young child to manage.
Engaging your child in an activity or two throughout the school year is great if s/he is also able to keep up with schoolwork. But if grades are suffering or your child seems overwhelmed, consider cutting back other activities until s/he is a little older and better able to manage so many things going on.
Often times, if your child gets a firm handle on being more independent with his or her studying habits, then introducing a new activity is a good idea. But if s/he is already struggling with grades or organization skills, scaling back the overall schedule can be amazingly helpful.
Avoid Overstimulation and Distractions – Another challenge for kids seems to be spending too much time watching television, using social media, or playing video games. Ensure you limit these activities – especially until studying and homework are complete.
Suggest putting any devices (that aren’t being used for homework or studying) away from their work or study area until their assignments are done. It can be an incentive to get the work done, but also be aware that it can also encourage rushing through their work. So simply be aware, review your child’s work, and ensure it’s not being rushed through for the sake of more enjoyable leisure activities.
Again, if you can make learning fun, your child is not as likely to rush through it.
Common Challenges Developing Effective Study Habits
Every child is different, and some find studying and getting homework done to be more challenging than others. As you work with your child, it’s helpful to know about some challenges that are common, as well as ways you can help to overcome the challenges for a more successful outcome. This web page has some helpful videos for note taking and color coding that can help your child success.
Taking Good Notes – This one is touch to navigate, because you are not there with your child at school to help him or her learn to take notes that are helpful when studying and doing homework. So talking this through with your child and using some examples can help. Ask to see your child’s notes, and then ask probing questions to learn more about what else was discussed during class. After doing this consistently, you child can learn from your questions things they should think to write down during class.
Organization – Find ways to help your child stay organized with his or her assignments and ideas. Sometimes it can be challenging to take a large assignment and break it down into smaller sections that are easier to accomplish, rather than being overwhelmed with the bigger picture. Help your child to break it down into manageable tasks.
Organizing what assignments were made and when they are due is another challenge for some kids. Talk with your child about when and how assignments are given and try and come up with ways that s/he can be more successful in tracking assignments – including when they are given, what the expectations are, and when each assignment is due.
Studying Effectively – Talk to your child each day about what they’re studying and what assignments they have. Find out what they feel confident about and what seems more challenging. Encourage them to use their individual strengths to accomplish more. For example, if your child is very visual, encourage visual aids for studying. If s/he is a strong writer, encourage writing to assist in learning. If s/he is more verbal, talk through the assignments together. Eventually, your child should hit their stride and learn what works best to study most effectively to suit their own strengths and learning style.
Different Ways of Learning and Studying
Children are unique in the ways they process information. Some are visual learners, others are more verbal or prefer writing everything down to read and process best that way. There are four basic learning styles. Use the guide below to find out how your child learns best:
- Is your child attracted to art or visual activities?
- Does your child most enjoy books with graphics and pictures?
- Does your child appreciate examples of problems before tackling them?
- Is your child interested in objects and the world around him or her?
If so, your child may be a visual learner. Here are some tips to help:
- Use color coding for homework and studying. Highlighters, different colored paper, and different color pens are all helpful and more interesting for visual learners.
- Make and use flash cards. Add images whenever possible to help retain the information.
- Create charts and mind maps to assist with studying. Anything that can help stimulate a visual guide for the information is useful and more meaningful.
- Does your child enjoy music and being told stories?
- Does your child often sign or hum when doing activities?
- Does your child often listen to all instructions before starting on a task?
- Does s/he enjoy talking things through and engaging in conversations?
If so, your child may be an auditory learner. Try these tips to help:
- Encourage reading notes out loud. Hearing the information is more easily retained for auditory learners.
- Make up songs and rhymes to help in remembering things. This can be both fun, silly, and yet amazingly useful in retaining information.
- Talk through assignments and study material. Conversations about study material can help your child understand the content more in-depth than simply reading prepared material. If you can link the material to real-world examples your child can understand, that’s also one of the best ways to help with retaining the information. S/he may remember the examples because they tend to be more colorful and real to them.
- Does your child often write things down?
- Does s/he enjoy reading books and stories?
- Does s/he work best in quiet spaces?
If so, try these tips to help with homework and studying:
- Encourage your child to write down study material and assignments. Have your child play around with writing things down in different ways to see what “sticks.” For some kids, circling key points is helpful, or using highlighters for certain key points to stand out. Try different things and your child will notice that some tactics will be more effective.
- Create checklists to help for topics that have multiple things to remember.
- Use headings and lists to help your child stay organized, whether it’s for assignments or study material.
- Does your child prefer physical activities such as sports?
- Does s/he have trouble sitting still while engaged in studying or homework?
- Does your child enjoy hands-on activities over other types of activities?
- Is s/he quick to jump into activities?
- Does s/he enjoy learning games or drawing?
If so, these tips may be helpful for your hands-on learner:
- Create games out of study material and homework assignments (to the extent possible, while getting the homework done within appropriate given guidelines). For some assignments, your child may be given the option of different ways to manage an assignment (for example, a teacher may assign making a poster, or writing a story, or creating a PowerPoint presentation). When those options are offered, talk with your child about what would be the most fun way to learn and present the information.
- Encourage your child to help in creating practice tests to use while studying. When creating their own practice tests, they’re also learning the material at the same time.
- Offer your child a stress ball or use of a balancing ball while studying or doing homework. For some kids, this added physicality helps them to remain calm enough to learn more effectively.