Developing good habits can be a challenging and ongoing task, but the hard work is well worth it. Setting guidelines and boundaries to create good routines will save you from frustration down the road. The secret to building good habits, I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is repetition. Sticking to a routine can put an end to bad habits and help us to develop good habits that are in line with our goals and potential. Through repetition, we can slowly replace our bad habits with good ones. No matter if you’re a college or university student pushing through your final semester, or if you’re the parent of a fourth grader who is struggling to prepare for weekly spelling tests – we have some tricks to share with you.

Parents – consider the following to help your children create healthy homework and study habits:

  1. Choice matters: Every child learns differently, so you may need to personalize routines to accommodate for the needs of each student’s ability. A very active child might need to get moving every once in a while to stay focused. On the other hand, a more introverted child may need some quiet time in order to feel energized and ready to focus on work. After school, does your child need time to take a quick break to play outside, have a snack, change clothes? Maybe they would rather jump right into homework to get it out of the way. Ask for their input when you are creating the routine – they’ll be more likely to stick with it.
  2. Map things out: Studies show that cramming is less than ideal. Students learn best when they keep a consistent study schedule, so teach your kids how to use a monthly calendar. Help them to break down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will enable them to plan for busier times, such as a big report or test, so they don’t get bogged down the day before the deadline. Another powerful tool is the daily checklist that serves as a visual reminder of what needs to be completed before a predetermined, short-term, deadline.
  3. Create a designated homework area: Perhaps the best spot is at the table in the kitchen or dining room, or at a quiet desk in the bedroom or office. Wherever you choose, preparing a specific workspace will reduce distractions and help facilitate a focused mindset whenever sitting in that spot. Prepare the area with all necessary school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, calculator, etc.). Keep this space organized so there’s no chance of losing something or accidentally tossing important study notes into the garbage.

University & College students – consider the following to develop a personalized study routine that works for you:

  1. Time of day: Your schedule probably doesn’t fit the typical 9-5 frame, so consider what time of day you work best. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Create a block of time in your schedule that not only fits your class schedule, but your energy level, too.
  2. Set electronic reminders: Your on-the-go lifestyle may be better suited to an online calendar. Include important dates from all of your engagements in the calendar so you have one streamlined schedule of dates. Check your course syllabus to see if you can sync the schedule with the calendar on your phone, and set reminders for 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month before any upcoming deadlines.
  3. Simulate your study environment: It’s probably difficult for you to study consistently at the same time and place due to irregularity in your class schedule and the amount of time you spend on campus. Thankfully, there are ways you can foster a similar study environment. If you always study in a no-noise zone, head to the silent floor of the library or to a quiet corner in a coffee shop. If you work best to music, always keep a set of headphones with you when you leave the house. If you can, try to keep your study intervals to the same length as you would if you were in your designated homework area.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant

Habits can take some time to take shape, but the end result is invaluable. Remember, you can revisit the routine at any time of the year to assess what is working and what needs improvement. The most important thing is to stick to the process of developing a good routine and determining what works for your individual needs. While challenging, it is an ongoing labour of love to yourself and to your children – so stick to it, and reap the benefits for a lifetime.

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