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By Dallan Hunt


No matter what your child is learning in school, there is one subject they need to master. It doesn’t have its own class, so you might not notice it. It’s called study skills. It includes many important skills, such as: organization, note taking, test preparation and time management.

These skills are crucial for success in school, and so here are 5 tips to help your child improve study skills and achieve success more easily.

Set SMART Goals

Setting goals is important because it allows your child to set expectations and define success, giving them something to work towards. To set effective goals, think SMART:

  • Specific: How can I make my goal narrow and focused?
  • Measurable: What am I using to measure my goal?
  • Attainable: How will I achieve my goal?
  • Realistic: Is this goal possible? Should I change my goal?
  • Timely: What is my deadline?

Check out more on SMART Goals here.

Use an Academic Planner

One way to keep track of your goals is with an academic planner. After all, school gets busy quickly and there is a lot to keep track of and remember. Academic planners help students remember important due dates and deadlines, and make sure assignments get handed in on time. They also help them plan their time as they juggle academic and personal lives. An effective planner should have the following:

  • Space to track daily homework and action list.
  • Monthly calendar pages.
  • Goal setting.
  • Grade tracking.

Children as young as elementary school should use their planner to help develop the important habits of planning and time management. Planners can be paper based or digital and are often provided by schools. As a parent, they are a great way to see what your child is learning at school as well.

Get Organized

In addition to organizing all tasks for school in a planner, it is equally important to organize all the materials for school – binders, handouts, assignments, tests and so on. It all piles up! But how?

Having a binder for your subjects, or sometimes one binder for each, is a good start. Include dividers with labels, to separate notes, assignments, tests and so on. Every paper should be dated and put in its appropriate place, to make sure it can be easily found. In addition, students should also have an organized desk area at home, with a small shelf or drawer to keep textbooks, binders, and other school materials.

Organizing materials and keeping a clean workspace saves time and makes studying and completing assignments easier.

Ask Questions (and Make Flash Cards)

An additional challenge with studying and assignments is keeping track of all the information. Students are exposed to a lot of information, of which they are expected to interpret, understand and solve problems with. It can certainly be overwhelming, and so here is a great strategy to help identify and remember important information for any subject:

  1. For each chapter or section, keep a growing list of questions based on important information and confusions.
  2. After, find the answers and record them on the right side. Your child can ask their teacher, tutor, or you! As they discover the answers, have them fill out the answer section on the right side.
  3. Once all the question and answers are filled out, help them to turn each question/answer into a flashcard, using a regular index card. Put the question on one side and put the answer on the other side.


With all the flash cards done, your child will now have an organized collection of questions and answers related to important information and confusions they’ve had. These flash cards are a perfect tool to save time when preparing for assignments and also studying for upcoming quizzes and tests.

Use Test Prep Strategies

Tests are important because they often determine a large part of a student’s overall grade. But how to prepare for a test is not always obvious, and it can be challenging. Here are some questions to ask your child to make test preparation less stressful:

  • What format will the test be? For example: multiple choice, short answer, true/false.
  • What expectations does the teacher have?
  • What material will be on the test?
  • What material do you understand well? Is any material still confusing?
  • Have you identified important information to know? Flash cards are a great strategy (see above).
  • How much time will it take to get prepared?
  • How can study time be broken into smaller, more manageable sessions? Include them in their Academic Planner on the days leading up to the test.
  • How can I help?

Answering these questions are a good start to helping your child be more prepared and confident with tests.

Overall, no matter what your child is learning in school, mastering study skills is a must. It will serve your child well to improve in skills such as organization, time management and test preparation. With practice, these skills can be turned into life-long habits, reducing stress, improving confidence and making both homework and school easier.

Study skills is a must!

Sylvan’s Study Skills Program helps students become more efficient and effective students. Learn more about our program here!

Call us today: (888) 338-2283

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