Purdue News

July 27, 2005

Literacy expert offers study tips for children

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Back to school means a return to hitting the books, and to make studying a success, there are a few things both students and parents should keep in mind, a Purdue University literacy expert says.

"Both elementary and high school students should remember that homework is not all there is to studying," says Sarah Mahurt, director of the Literacy Collaborative and an associate professor of literacy and language at Purdue. "Students shouldn't think, 'My homework assignment is done, so now I don't have to do anything more.' "

Students can benefit by reading and reviewing the textbook chapters accompanying the homework – even if it isn't part of the assignment– and also reading additional books on a given subject.

"Older children should review the material by summarizing it and taking notes as they are reading," Mahurt says. "For younger children, it is sufficient to verbally summarize the information while they read. Going back to summarize portions of the text while reading is a very effective way for students to learn."

Also, Mahurt says it is vital for parents and students to decide the best time for studying and then devote time daily for that purpose.

"Students should have a regular time set aside each day to study," she says. "And choose a time based on their schedule, so it doesn't conflict with their play time or other scheduled activities. When children establish a regular time to study, it makes it easier for them to incorporate it into their day."

Mahurt offers other study tips for children and parents:

• Study guides can be helpful. "If the teacher provides a study guide, use it. The study guide helps highlight important material. Self-questioning can also help students understand and remember the material," Mahurt says.

• Studying in groups can work for some children, but not always. "In order for it to work, each member should have read the material and brought something to the table," she says. "It shouldn't be a time for students to get together and goof off. You have to be careful."

• Parents should provide children a quiet environment in which to study by turning off the television and video games.

• Parents can also encourage their child to develop good study habits on their own by offering guidance and support, not giving them the answers. "Mom and Dad should check to see if their child's homework is done, not do it for them," Mahurt says.

Also, she says it is beneficial for children and adolescents to read for pleasure 15 to 20 minutes a day.

"This builds their vocabulary and develops comprehension," Mahurt says.

Mahurt says parents should set up a meeting with the teacher about halfway through each grading period to assess their child's performance. Instead of waiting for the end-of-semester report card, parents can begin working for improvement before problems become critical. Since it's often difficult for working parents to contact teachers, this can be done in many schools through voice mail or e-mail.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu

Source: Sarah Mahurt, (765) 496-3981, mahurt@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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