5 Essential Things to Do Outside of Class to Boost In-Class Learning
This one is for the students. And if you’re a parent of a student, read this and then read it again with your son or daughter.
[If you missed our last post on How to be a Great Parent to Your Student (and the #1 Mistake Most Parents are Making), be sure to check it out!]
Each one of these tips could easily have their own blog post and some of them will be featured on our blog in the near future. For now, we’ve made a short list of the very best habits students can build to maximize their learning and crush it in the classroom.
So many helpful tips…so little time. Let’s get started.
1) Sleep Smart
How many hours per night? Is a fixed bedtime/ wakeup time necessary? Do I really need to shut down all blue-light electronics an hour before bed?
The truth is, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding sleep and it’s effect on learning. But here’s what we know:
- Sleep is essential for absorbing new information and making it “stick” in your mind.
- People from different age groups need different amounts of sleep. Check out the specifics here.
- You don’t have to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Just like you don’t have to put out a fire in your bedroom. Oh wait, you do.
- Exposure to blue light emitted from electronics like your phone, computer, TV, or tablet kills your sleep quality. You might be in bed for the recommended time, but if your sleep quality stinks, what’s the point? It’s like not studying for a test and then expecting to ace it. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
- Everybody has to sleep. Take a little time to find out what works best for you and reap the benefits every day for the rest of your life!
2) Eat Smart
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard this one before. But there’s a good reason for it: It’s super flipping important!
What you eat strongly affects your mood, your energy level, and countless aspects of brain functionality. If you’re not eating well as a student, you’re not learning well. School is hard enough…and when you don’t eat right, you’re actually asking your body and brain to work against you.
Do a little research and choose some healthy, energy-rich foods to try out this week. Plan when you are going to eat them so that your body gets its “fuel” at just the right time. Many people only eat when they are hungry (or bored!). Be intentional with what you eat and when you eat it. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish with that extra energy.
*Bonus tip: You eat what you have. Don’t keep unhealthy foods around the house because you will eat them. Buy healthy from the grocery store and make it hard for yourself to get your hands on the bad stuff.
3) Plan Your Study/ Homework Time
Setting specific times for studying and for homework is a no-brainer. It’s a simple little task that will take no more than 5-10 minutes, but can save you hours over the course of a few weeks.
Think about it. How many times have you sat down to do homework and been unable to focus? Felt sleepy? Felt rushed? That’s all wasted time and energy. Setting a designated study time drastically decreases the likelihood that you’ll be studying at any time other than when you’re at your best.
Here’s what to do:
Come home from school and assess the amount of homework you have for that night. Estimate the time each piece will take. Then look at other events or commitments you have for that night. Make a plan, fitting homework slots and commitments together like puzzle pieces. (Everyone is bad at this when they start, but the learning curve is very shallow. And the better you get, the more time you save yourself.)
Learning something new often takes a significant amount of time, but spending time is not the goal. Learning is. This tip will help you master material more quickly and efficiently while also leaving you time for your other pursuits…win-win!
4) Set Goals
Oh, the remarkable benefits of goal-setting. First, let’s talk short-term goals.
We mean really short-term. As in, when you sit down to do your homework or to study, what are your goals? To simply complete a worksheet? To be able to recite x, y, z? To spend an hour on a certain subject? Set clear, achievable goals for each work session…you’ll love the feeling of accomplishment and increased productivity.
You should also, of course, set bigger, long-term goals that you are working towards as you reach all of your smaller, short-term goals. What are your goals as a learner? To get into a great school? To become the best doctor you can be?
Regardless of what your specific long-term goals are, you need to make sure that all of the time you invest propels you towards reaching those goals. Short-term goals can seem insignificant at times, but remember that “a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”
5) Review, Assess, Deconstruct
So you set some goals. It’s the end of the week and you achieved them. Well done! Or didn’t you?
Either way, it’s time to Review, Assess, and Deconstruct your week. If you’re into acronyms…RAD.
Reviewing is simply looking back at your week. How was your schedule this week? What feedback did you receive this week? How did you feel throughout the week and at the end of it? What goals did you reach or fall short of reaching?
Think of this as the data-gathering stage. Just collect all the information about your week that you can at this point. We’ll start making sense of it in the next steps.
Assessing is evaluating the positives and negatives of the week. Are you happy with your performance this week? Do you think you could have gotten more work done? Worked faster? Did you overwork yourself? Are you satisfied with your attitude this week?
The emphasis in this stage is on determining what worked and what didn’t work this week. Learn what things need to improve and what things should stay the same. The next step will help us understand them even better.
Deconstructing is pulling apart the experiences you had this week and figuring out exactly why things happened the way they did. Why was Tuesday such an amazing day? What can you learn from Tuesday that you can apply to every day in the future? Why did you receive a disappointing grade on your Math exam? How could you prepare better next time? Get as specific as you can here. This step takes the most detective work, but the payoff is huge!
Once you’ve deconstructed your experiences of the past week, it’s back to setting goals. You have new insight into your life and your goals (especially short-term) need to be adjusted accordingly. Set your goals for next week knowing that you’ll do better this time around! You’ve evolved.
Which tips are you going to try? Choose 1-2 for a “test-run” this week and let us know how it goes.
By the way…
If you found this article helpful or interesting, we’d love to speak with you. (We’ve got much more where this came from!)
And for a limited time, we’re offering a free Diagnostic Test for your child alongside a free consultation. Take a peek around, get a feel for the place, and see some of these tips in action.
We’re looking forward to meeting you!