Our sons jus didn’t know how to be organized, or how to be consistent.
Now here’s the thing: These two qualities are useful in school and they are essential in life…
and they are TEACHABLE QUALITIES.
So we developed some strategies based on what we know works for us as adults:
- How to form habits for consistent action
- How to organize work to get it done
- How to organize notes and thoughts so you can use them when needed
The techniques we used are not all new, but the combination of these skills works wonders for kids. And it is all new to them. They get to experience (possibly for the first time) what some effort and structure will do for them. It’s really incredible to watch as these techniques kick in, not just in school, but in sports and music and technology.
The long version of our story (for the skeptics)…
We began developing this system when our two sons were in 6th grade and 4th grade, respectively.
Our younger son was getting slammed by the demands of Common Core. He was having a difficult time going from the previous chew-and-spew answers that were expected before Common Core to the new form of extended response. All of a sudden his “extended responses” – the critical thinking that’s at the root of Common Core – had to be interpreted, developed, and proven. He just didn’t get what he was supposed to do.
Our older son was transitioning into middle school and had to keep track of the expectations of 7 different teachers, 6 different notebooks, and numerous syllabi and homework procedures. As much as they tried to prepare him in elementary school, when he started Middle School he was like a guppy thrown into the ocean. He was drowning.
Does this sound familiar?
Our boys test in the 99th and 98th percentile but were not succeeding because they didn’t know how to–they didn’t know how to interpret what was expected from them, they didn’t know how to study, and they didn’t have the organization skills to bring it all together in a consistent manner.
We were all frustrated.
So we yelled about it. We grounded them. We took away their screen time. We bribed them with cash and video games and dessert. We tried everything to get them to try harder.
We went to a national study center to see if that might help, fully expecting our son to need maybe 4 hours of help to bring his grades up.
We were told that he’d need 100 hours of studying help for the cost of a small car (!); they even had their own financing! So not gonna happen.
So we decided to help him ourselves. We researched every study technique and learning style we could. Mike and I both have years of experience with research so it wasn’t a stretch to apply this experience to our kids… we used our son and his friends as guinea pigs. We even tried some of these techniques in our own lives. And we developed this tried and true system to help our kids achieve academic success. We came to the conclusion that the problem wasn’t that our boys needed to try harder. They were already trying – they needed to try smarter.
Look at the image of our son’s grades from 4/8/14 and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
He had either A’s or D’s (mostly from not handing in the work that he’d done!) and this splotchy report card reflects this. Teachers say “take notes,” but do kids know how to take notes? Teachers tell the kids to “study for their tests,” but if they haven’t taken notes on a daily basis, what do the kids use to study for their tests? Usually they just read over their textbooks a couple of times the night before a test and call it a day.
That’s not enough.
It’s not enough for school, and not enough for life either.
It turns out the ability to control habit formation and organize work is more important than raw smarts. Good structures for how and when to study – and even how and when to turn in homework – are more important than raw smarts in getting good grades.
That’s where this program comes in. It gives your child the skills they need to be able to study and learn in a consistent, confident manner. It lets them know the exact recipe of how to be excellent at the number one priority in their young lives, their schoolwork.
After only 2 weeks of implementing our system of how to get organized and how to study, our son’s grades were already improving:
In the beginning, the single biggest difference came from getting organized and setting up a time on Sunday nights to look ahead to the coming week and plot out tests and quizzes and homework assignments (and figure all of this out combined with a busy soccer schedule).
These strategies aren’t rocket science and every kid can implement them, no matter their strengths or weaknesses or how they learn.
We equate these strategies to learning how to tie your shoes or brush your teeth or go to the bathroom. They are habits. They can be learned. And they can become part of your son or daughter’s daily habits. And they definitely lead to success.
Now look at our son’s grades 6 months later at the start of 7th grade, after a long summer full of soccer, camp, and playing:
He’s currently getting straight A’s (with the exception of gym class because he lost his shorts) and more importantly, he’s confident, relaxed, and enthusiastic about school. He’s thriving.
Ok. Yes, we think he’s about the best kid on the planet.
But these study strategies that we developed for our own kids can rock your kid’s world too.
They are easy to follow, easy to implement, and they are skills that will help your child for the rest of his or her school career and beyond.
And who knows? They might even help you organize your own stuff.