Successful studying is the key

2008-03-14 00:00

The most traumatic time for any pupil is when results have been released and the child has not been able to fulfil the requirements of the examination. Failure to meet the examination standards is a problem that causes endless headaches for teachers, parents and pupils alike. For that reason, teachers and parents need to work together to ensure that sub-standard performances at school are kept to a ­minimum.

Parents can contribute to their children’s successful studying if they are well informed about study methods that work. On many occasions parents force their children to study. Some parents, like myself, even lock their children in rooms so that they will not play but will study instead. This produces compelled studiers and the chances of these pupils passing an examination are very slim because the child is not self-motivated to study. Parents should realise that external motivation has a temporary effect on the pupil.

With this in mind, parents should be diplomatic when they encourage their children to study. Diplomacy is essential because confrontation will only perpetuate poor results. The first thing parents can do is to find out when their children study effectively and then provide suitable reading material.

The child who performs poorly at school should be given the freedom to choose when he or she studies best. This is necessary because people are different; therefore, as parents we should understand, appreciate and celebrate individual differences in our children. Some children study well in the morning while others prefer the afternoon or late at night. Forcing a child to study at the wrong time will bear little or no fruit at all.

As teachers and parents let’s make sure that our children study a variety of subjects every day. Dwelling on a single subject must be avoided because it leads to boredom and lopsided results at the end of the year. A pupil can get very good results in some subjects and very poor results in other subjects.

A timetable with time allocated to different subjects is necessary so that the pupil concentrates equally on all subjects. This ensures that all subjects are given uniform attention.

Pupil should avoid sticking to those subjects that they are good at, at the expense of those that they are poor at. This will help to produce good results in all subjects.

Pupils should set targets when they are studying. They should have a topic and a specific area to be covered. Having a target will assist pupils to assess their progress. This is important because it allows the pupil the opportunity to evaluate how he or she is progressing. It is important for the pupil to note that it is not necessary to study the whole textbook.

A self-assessment should be done after every study session. Pupils should try to write down some of the main concepts they have studied to check if they have learnt the major points during the study period. If pupils cannot write the main points down then they need to go through the notes again as the topic would have been poorly understood.

Since all work and no play is not good for our children, teachers and parents should encourage all school-going children to set aside time for relaxation. This may be in the form of chatting with friends. On this note, parents who are tempted to force their children to stay away from their peers must desist from doing this. The child needs time to relax physically and psychologically.

Parents should only intervene when they see that the friends have a negative attitude towards learning. Pupils should be encouraged to be selective when it comes to choosing friends. Friends who do not have positive attitudes towards learning should be avoided.

All pupils should have time to do some physical exercise as this facilitates a faster rate of thinking. ­Muscles need to be stretched as this promotes an overall healthy state of the body.

One other thing that needs to be taken into account by any pupils who want to do well in examinations is to make sure that they do not study when they are hungry. Pupils should make a point of eating before studying. Remember, you cannot afford to starve a working body.

Lastly, pupils should use the library services that are available because this reinforces concepts learnt in class. On this note pupils should realise that library time is not the time to engage in endless conversations with friends at the expense of studying.

Library time should be made use of in such a way that pupils have a feeling of cognitive transformation after visiting the library. It is, therefore, important for parents and teachers alike to encourage their children to go to the library quite often.

• Alois Zembe is an award-winning teacher from Zimbabwe. He teaches geography at Icesa.

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