A new year always brings with it a fresh start, especially when it comes to studying. If you want to help your teen start the year with their best foot forward, then it’s important they leave any poor study habits behind. Here are 6 poor study signs to look out for and how you can help your teen avoid them.
Let’s face it, we’ve all struggled with schoolwork, asking for help and bouncing back. But when you see your teen making the same poor decisions week after week, term after term, your parental radar just keeps on beeping to the point of sleepless nights.
Each student has their learning fingerprint — their ULP. And just like a DNA fingerprint, there are thousands of variables to getting this just right. But when you get it right and incorporate it into a tailored study strategy, you’ll see the change. Students who are taking advantage of their ULP are self-motivated, and confident and score consistent results across their subjects.
If you want to put your feet up knowing your child is set for 2024, then read on to prioritise which signs to watch out for and address early this year so they don’t go through another exhausting rinse-and-repeat cycle of poor study.
Sign 1: Disorganisation
Is your child drowning in a sea of textbooks, bits and pieces of paper and a cluttered workspace? If yes, it’s time for an intervention. If your child constantly struggles to find resources on demand or doesn’t plan out their work ahead of time, that’s another subtle sign that they need help.
Pro tip: Do more than track deadlines and build a system to monitor your child’s progress together. Have an assessment tracker that measures the outcomes they achieve and the effort that they put in. It helps eliminate overwhelm in students, especially those who struggle with procrastination or anxiety and helps them prioritise tasks in front of them.
Sign 2: Procrastination or leaving things to the last minute
Another red flag is pushing back their work or leaving things the night before only to find themselves racing against the clock. Some students submit on time with half-baked projects, while others simply miss their deadlines. Both kinds of procrastination mean that their study effectiveness is compromised, and they aren’t achieving what they’re fully capable of.
Worse yet, teenagers and developing brains are fixated on short-term gratification—so if they don’t get the mark they feel they deserved (and especially, if they gave up something enjoyable to complete work), their confidence needs to be rebuilt quickly or else they’ll find progressively harder to try the next time.
Pro tip: Teach and give your child an opportunity to master self-regulation. We can never be there with our children all the time to make sure they’re focused on what they should be. It’s completely different for each student, but this method can help them address their distractions so they can step back when they find themselves caught in destructive activities.
Sign 3: Poor exam results
Even if exam results aren’t the ultimate sign of academic success, it’s a good gauge of how your child is doing in school. Receiving low marks even after hours of study or being disappointed in a result are major signs of a mismatch between their understanding of the work that’s required, their expectations for themselves and what they’re willing to put in.
Pro tip: Instead of focusing just on content, help your child develop the skills to boost their learning strengths. Students fare well when they have something to link their unique learning strengths and their environment — we call this a cognitive adapter. This can activate your child’s boosters to the race line when it comes to learning.
Sign 4: Content overload without effective cognitive organisation
If your child struggles with grasping concepts or fails to make sense of the syllabus content, that’s a huge red flag for parents. It’s important to help them understand, organise and process the information so they can easily retain and recall for better results in exam conditions. The solution is pretty easy—improve the way information is etched, stored and recalled—the hardest part is consistency.
Pro tip: Take a look at your child’s cognitive load and ensure they’re at optimum levels. It’s also known as the amount of mental work they do as they study. It’s essential to make sure that how they study works for them — not against them. Some can’t stand studying for 45 minutes, while others are just not engaged with maths or history.
Sign 5: Careless mistakes
Careless mistakes happen when your child lacks the focus they need to create quality work, which in turn affects the quality of their learning experience. Students who have effective study skills, assessment preparation, and exam techniques make little to no careless mistakes. This is because every effort has been made to inoculate and weed out the tendencies that lead to the drop in marks that can make the difference between a Band 5 and a Band 6 in the HSC.
Pro tip: Create a process to strategise and optimise your child’s exam preparation. The full exam preparation process can be divided into 11 to 13 (depending on a student’s aspirations) distinct stages, from class notes all the way to practice questions and papers. Each one should build upon the last.
Sign 6: Exam anxiety
Children who aren’t equipped with strong study skills are less confident and more anxious to prepare and deal with upcoming exams. From being snippy in the car and sweaty palms to ‘mind-blanks’ and full-blown panic attacks, each on their own are signs your child has not prepared properly for an exam. Students who are ready for exams are confident, focused, and eager to put everything on paper to hit the marking criteria to nail those marks.
But study effectiveness is not an inherent trait. Rather, it’s skill that is cultivated and strengthened over time.
Directly related to your child’s unique learning profile (or ULP), your child’s ability to be productive and focused on the task at hand is crucial to their overall success not just in the classroom but for so many other situations in university and the workplace. However, according to a recent OECD report, 37% of students admit that they get very tense when studying which in turn makes children more vulnerable to poor academic results that affect their confidence and lifelong outcomes.
Pro tip: Understand your child’s default settings. Exam anxiety often happens because your child might’ve missed a crucial exam preparation step. When you identify where the gap is, it becomes easier to help them cope and adjust their performance during exams.
For more tips and strategies on how to maximise marks in 2024 without burning out, check out Kalibrate-Ed. They go beyond the content to teach your child how to learn according to their unique learning profile. This is the most valuable life skill that your child could have to overcome challenges and what our educational strategy and execution experts do.