As we get further into the school year, more and more tests are going to start popping up in your child’s classes. We often get questions about how to help them prepare, and one of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to create a study schedule. Far too often we see children waiting until the night before a test to start reviewing, causing undue stress. By getting into the habit of chunking (breaking down the workload into smaller, more manageable pieces) you can not only help your child get through their tests now, but also set up better study habits for the rest of their lives.
This is the schedule that we have seen to be most effective. First, look at your calendar, or your child’s agenda and find the day of the test. You are going to start here, and work backwards. The night before the test, you do not want your child to be studying anything new. Reserve this night for a quick review, and a good night’s sleep. Then, break it down in manageable chunks and work as far back as your child needs. For example, if your child has a science test on Friday on chapters 1, 2 and 3, on Thursday night you should be doing a quick review. On Wednesday night he or she should study chapter 3, on Tuesday night study chapter 2, and on Monday night study chapter 1. You can break up any subject this way, even if it is not by chapters. If it is a spelling test at school, start at the day of the test, do a review the night before, and then break it down a few words a night and work your way as far backwards as your child needs. This allows them to learn over time, and avoids cramming the night before the test.
We strongly recommend that you or your child writes this schedule down, whether it be in the child’s planner/agenda, or on a family calendar. This helps keep him or her accountable, and makes the idea of chunking much more concrete than if he or she tried to do it in his or her head.
These planning and study skills are especially helpful as your child gets older and the material is more in depth. However, by starting this practice early, it becomes a good habit that your child will have as they progress through school.