How to Study as a Family
Parents who also are college students have an extra challenge of making time for homework while helping their children with their studies, too. Fortunately, good study habits are ageless, so what works for you also can work for your kids. The key is to create a great system and stick to the routine using the following guidelines.
Feed the body, then the brain
Trying to study when you’re hungry is more than a matter of a growling stomach breaking your concentration. Just like your muscles, your brain needs fuel to work.
Start study sessions with a healthy snack that will keep the body and mind going. Nuts, whole grains, cheese, and fresh fruit are great choices. Avoid sugary snacks and processed flour, which can leave you feeling sluggish within a few minutes.
Set the ambiance
First rule: Turn off the TV and ban electronics. Studies have shown that some people study better with background music, so a little unobtrusive sound can be an effective tool. Experts say music is more likely to be a problem during reading or writing, so if either is on the agenda, pause the sound track.
Also, set up a consistent place to study with necessary equipment such as computers, pencils, and paper close at hand. If your home has enough space for a dedicated study area, all the better. If not, moving study supplies to the kitchen table or counter will mentally signal that it’s time to begin.
Tackle the hard stuff first
Some professionals begin every day with the things they’d rather not do. This method has the advantage of getting hard tasks out of the way first, plus there’s a lot to be said for knowing that everything left on the schedule is going to be easier.
The same concept can apply to studying. Tackle the tougher subjects first while you’re still fresh. Another school of thought calls for plowing through several simple tasks and creating a sense of accomplishment, effectively warming up for more challenging work. Know your family and determine which works best.
Give yourself a break
Schools have recess because kids need the activity. Among adults and kids alike, everyone’s concentration starts to flag after prolonged studying.
Incorporate study breaks into your sessions. Drop everything and play an active video game such as “Just Dance.” Bike or take a brisk walk around the block. Shoot some hoops or pass a ball. Everyone will return refreshed and ready.
Be the change you want
College students with children can educate their kids in non-academic ways, too. It sets a great example when a child sees parents model great behaviors such as work ethic, determination, and perseverance in the face of challenges.
Be sure to talk about your academic challenges with your kids: the class you’re having trouble understanding, the big project that’s up against a hard deadline, etc. These are relatable, enduring life lessons that can shape futures.
Attending college while raising a family is a juggling act that requires planning, patience, and determination. The good news is that study systems that work great for adults work often just as well for children. Using these tips can create a structured family study time that helps everyone succeed.
Written by Ashford University staff