Keys to Better Study Habits
Why is it so hard for students to change their habits when it comes to studying and schoolwork? Even after they have been given tools, skills, and support, they sometimes fail to budge from their old habits, leaving the adults around them frustrated and puzzled. Often, the resistance to change comes down to two things: the investment of emotions and time. Today I'll discuss emotional investment, and next week I'll talk about time investment. Without emotional investment, it is much harder to change. If a student does not care about becoming more organized, getting work in on time, or following up on missing work, it is far less likely that they will do it, even after learning the skills. Further, if they don't have strong emotions about what kind of work they turn in or what kind of grades they get, they are less likely to work toward habit changes. From the outside, a lack of caring can seem flippant or lazy, and I hear these words used to describe students fairly often. But in most cases, these descriptors are far off the mark. More likely, there is a complex web of circumstances and feelings stewing underneath the surface. Students may have a learning difference that wasn't noticed or addressed well and they feel ashamed that they have fallen behind; they may feel stress from mounting pressure from teachers and parents; they might struggle with anxiety or depression; they may not be sure how to ask for help or feel embarrassed to do so; or they may have encountered difficult relationships with peers or family members. This only scratches the surface of possibilities. Taking some time to understand the emotional landscape of the student can give us an understanding about why making changes can be so difficult, even if the changes look simple from the outside. This is when it may help to find a skilled counselor, therapist, or life coach to guide your student through these complexities and get to the emotions behind the habits. Emotions run especially high with teens and it can be tricky to get them to open up. I recommend working with a therapist because often students won't open up to a parent, but feel okay with telling a therapist. I have therapists and coaches I can recommend. Once the emotions are uncovered, and a student is guided through solutions for facing and working with them, they are more likely to be open to, and willing to work on, making a change. They may even discover something that they can use as a motivator. For instance, they may not be excited about school, but they can see that doing all of their homework in a timely manner will give them more time for skateboarding (and consequently, less stress). Taking time to draw a map of a student's emotional landscape and then putting supports in place is an excellent use of time and can lead to a more productive, balanced student.