Top 10 Study Tips!

The school year is off to a good start!  My first grader says he loves, P.E., recess, lunch, art, music and library but he isn’t so crazy about the part, “when the teacher teaches!”  Okay, we’ve got to work on that.  Daniella has spent the third week of 4th grade at home, in bed, with a nasty virus!  It’s day 4 and her fever just won’t quit.

So, we’re working out a few kinks.  One thing that’s a top priority is helping our kids have good study habits.  For starters we make sure they have a quiet place to do their homework.  When they come home from school, they take a break to have a snack and relax and then it’s right on to their homework.  For my kids, it works best to have them do their homework early in the afternoon…if we wait until after dinner they’re just too tired and can’t focus.

We want to help you get your child’s year off to a great start, too!  So, we’ve partnered with Alexandra Mayzler, the founder of Thinking Caps Tutoring

Thinking Caps offers personalized instruction for middle and high school students by carefully matching tutors and students and creating environments conducive to learning.

Alexandra is also the author of a fantastic book called, Tutor in a Book, a hands-on study manual for students, parents, and teachers.  It helps students with organization, time management and study skills!

While Thinking Caps tutoring typically works with middle and high school students, Alexandra has come up with a list of Top 10 Study Tips that will also be very helpful for parents of elementary school students as well.

Thinking Caps Top 10 Study Tips:

1. Set goals. Sit down with your child and have a discussion as to what he or she wants to achieve this school year.  Maybe your child wants to improve his or her test scores, or maybe become a better note-taker during class.  Whatever you child strives for this year it begins with a desire to succeed and a plan of action.

2. Make a game plan. Once goals have been identified, talk with your child about ways to specifically improve those areas.  Improving a student’s school performance is not as simple as “study harder,” but rather it involves honing in on specific trouble spots and taking the steps to make them stronger. Set regular check-ins with your child to monitor progress and adjust your plan accordingly.

3. Use your planner. Students should write down homework on the day it is assigned.  Encourage students to check off completed assignments. By crossing off completed tasks, students can feel accomplished and they won’t have confusion about pending work. Students can also highlight upcoming tests and projects in a bright color so that they can easily identify important dates and remember to start studying early!

4. Find a good workspace. The key to a good workspace is consistency: it is the place where the student does homework and studies most days. While a desk in a bedroom may work for some, for others it may feel too cramped. Students may also want to work at a big table or on the floor where they can spread out. However, all workspaces should have the following:

  • Pens, pencils, and all other materials necessary for homework
  • Quiet to promote concentration
  • Comfort because the student will spend a lot of time there
  • Few distractions (no TV, videogames, or be in the middle of family activity)

5. Create a study plan. By planning ahead, studying doesn’t take over your child’s life.  Think of making a study schedule like making a budget: set a block of time for focused study, and break it down as to what exactly is going to be done (i.e. making flash cards, reading and taking notes) and how much time will be spent on each task.  The key is to break studying down into small daily chunks in the days leading up to the test. Also, encourage your child to budget for breaks and time to unwind to keep his or her mind stimulated and to make the study process more productive.

6. Stay organized. Whether your child has loyalty to a binder or notebook system, the key is to pick a method and stick with it. Dedicate 5-10 minutes every night to making sure that notes are dated and papers have been filed in the right place.

7. Use an at home filing system. At the end of every month, dedicate some time to filter through your child’s notebooks and folders. Older papers should be filed at home in a long-term binder. For the long-term binder, the student can use one binder with dividers for each subject or use separate binders for each subject. Older papers should be placed in this at home binder in chronological order with older papers at the back and newer papers towards the front. This filing system greatly reduces the loss of papers in the general shuffle to and from school. Also, for cumulative exams, students can easily access their older work.

8. Be a good reader. Students are often assigned dense reading in textbooks and this information is difficult to process. Students should break down longer reading into small chunks. Have your child be an active reader by underlining important facts along the way. At the end of each short chunk of reading have your child take notes on important concepts and ideas. Student should jot down notes on bolded terms in the text as these are often key concepts to learn for tests and quizzes.

9. Take good class notes. Note-taking is a skill that helps students have a better understanding of homework and classwork. Students should date their notes and write a heading at the top of each section for easy reference. Students should keep their ears open for major ideas, concepts, dates, and facts. Also, remind your child not to be afraid to ask their teacher to repeat something. If the teacher’s going too fast, chances are other students will also be relieved to hear the information again as well. If a student is shy, encourage him to stay after class to ask the teacher.

10. Celebrate the victories, no matter how small. Old habits die hard. It is extremely unlikely that a student will get the gist of a new homework routine or study plan after one week. It can take many weeks for changes to occur. Take some time to reassess student goals and commend your child on all progress or achievements. If your child struggles with organization but has managed to keep all of his loose papers in the proper section of his binder then commend him for a job well done!


Thank you Thinking Caps Tutoring and Alexandra Mayzler for this great top 10 list!  If you’d like more information about Thinking Caps Tutoring or Tutor In A Book – check out their website at

Wishing you a successful school year…keep us posted on how your kids are doing!

One Response to “Top 10 Study Tips!”

  1. Susan Williams says:


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