Often kids waste time studying things they already know and then they don’t have time to dive deep into studying the stuff that is challenging them. Teaching them about what deliberate studying is and how to study deliberately so that they focus on the hard stuff can help them use their time more efficiently and effectively!
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Deliberate studying is the term I’m using for what experts have been calling “deliberate practice”. So to define deliberate practice, it is:
- At least 1 hour of intensely focused practice or study (and no more than 2 hours before a break)
- Purposeful, focused attention
- With a specific goal of improving performance
It differs from regular practice, which often includes more mindless repetition. When you are just practicing, you run the risk of reviewing stuff you already know and so you aren’t really learning anything. When you are deliberately practicing, on the other hand, you figure out what you don’t know and you work on improving that specific skill. When we think about deliberate studying, we should be thinking about focusing on the areas that you don’t have a good handle on – things that are challenging. They need to practice those challenging problems and get feedback so they can see where they went wrong and try it again.
Deliberate studying would mean trying the problems they missed on their homework again. If they get them wrong again, it means looking at how to do it correctly and then trying again and practicing some similar problems until they get them right every time and they are no longer challenging.
For English, maybe your child isn’t good at writing essays. Deliberate studying would mean writing essays. It would also require feedback, so you may need to be there to provide some gentle, constructive feedback so they can keep improving. To improve their writing, they may also want to look at recommended outlines for writing quick essays so that they have a template.
How can you help your child learn to study deliberately?
Talk to them about it. You’ll definitely get better results if you can talk to them about it when they are young and still willing to listen to you. If they are older, they may still listen to you if you can say it in a helpful, suggesting way and frame it as your experience.
Simply explain to your child deliberate studying. And while you are teaching them about deliberate studying, it would be extra convincing and helpful if you told them about a time you used deliberate studying. Kids love to know that you struggled too and that they aren’t going through these tough things alone. So sharing your story can be really powerful. It’s also really helpful because it gives them a concrete example of what deliberate studying looks like.
- “Oh, now that you are starting to take tests, I want to teach you about a trick that really helped me when I was studying. It’s called deliberate studying.”
- “I see you’re having trouble studying. You know what I did when I didn’t have enough time to study everything and I really needed to focus, I used this trick called deliberate studying.”
Teaching children about what deliberate studying is and how to study deliberately so that they focus on the hard stuff can help them use their time more efficiently and effectively!
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