Caloosa Belle

Lesson Four: Academic Skills

During the chaotic years of adolescence, education should be made a top priority. This is true for teenagers who aspire to go to college as well as those who choose to take a vocational or military path. It doesn’t really matter what the career goal is. When it comes down to the correlation between academics and future success, sometimes it’s a matter of ‘learning how to learn’. Most often, successful learners know how to study and manage their time.

Putting education at the top of the priority list can be a challenge given the hormonal and interpersonal changes this age group is generally experiencing. Parents need to make sure that their children understand the importance of school, create good homework and study habits, make connections with teachers as well as complete required assignments. This will, hopefully, lead to successfully mastering the needed academic skills that will be necessary for future employment and independent living.

Having good study habits and time management skills will allow adolescents to grow academically and achieve age-appropriate educational goals. Learning how to study and manage time efficiently will be of the utmost importance when acquiring academic skills such as reading, writing, science and math. Being able to study in a timely manner during the early years will help set the stage for good educational habits later on in high school and college.

Once a young child enrolls in school, creating an environment that fosters good study habits is necessary. Each year, the homework load will increase and it is much easier to form these habits beginning in elementary school. Establish a routine for children, whether it’s sitting down to do homework after school or after dinner. This will also help teach time management skills. Plan and organize how much time must be designated to various tasks, events, projects or assignments.

Do not expect kids to immediately sit down after school and get to work. Give them a chance to have a snack and unwind. There should always be an opportunity each day for fun and friends. When it is time to study, make sure there is a workable space with few distractions. Turn off the television, but keep music on in the background if it is helpful.

As children get older, they will need to learn how to take notes on what they are learning about. Note taking can become a daunting task if not properly mastered early on. It can be a challenge to stay focused when so much information is given in a textbook or even during a short lecture. When taking notes, it is important for adolescents to listen for main ideas or themes, skim the material, review tables and charts, summarize information, and make flashcards for a quick review of things like formulas, dates, definitions and spelling words. These skills will get better with time and practice.

It’s nearly impossible to write down everything being said or displayed during even the briefest of lectures. If allowed, use a recording device or cell phone to record the discussion. This will give adolescents the opportunity to go back and review the notes taken and fill in any missing details. Going back to the textbook or an online document will allow for the comparison of notes, and make sure all of the major points are covered. Study groups can also be beneficial because of the ability to work together, learn how to decompress the information collected and perhaps process it more efficiently. Rewriting notes and highlighting key points can assist with memory retention too.

Finally, in order to know if the material was truly mastered and see that all of the studying paid off, assessments must be given. For some, test taking can be a traumatic and stressful experience, but sometimes they are a necessity. Explain to your teen that staying up late and cramming the night before a test is not productive, and it is far better to get a good night’s sleep. It is more beneficial to practice and learn a little bit everyday rather than try to crunch everything in at the last minute.

Parents, know that you are earning your gray hairs. Spending countless hours with your teen teaching good study habits and how to manage time are not being done in vain. You are helping prepare them for the future. Adolescents who master academic skills (whether vocational or collegiate) will most likely become happy, successful and independent adults. In the end, isn’t that what we want?
In the upcoming weeks, there will be a series of several short articles discussing certain necessary life skills for young adolescents to meet who are ready to leave the family nest and soar. into the world of adulthood.