Learning Habits

Six Habits for Learning

1. Successful Students Set Challenging but Realistic Goals

Some people seem to have no goals at all. They haven’t decided what they want.  Others aim for someone else’s goals. They try to accomplish what parents, teachers or friends think is important.

Successful students set their own goals. They realize that goals are more than wishful thinking. Setting a goal means creating a plan to reach the goal.

It is best to begin with Long-Term Goals including Educational and Personal Goals.  The next step is asking what you need to do this year, this semester, this week, or today. These are short-term goals.  A short-term goal for a particular class would be a Study Plan.  It would include the grade you want to make, what you want to learn, how long you want to remember it, and strategies for reaching those goals.

2. They  Get Organized to reach their goals

Most students know that Time Management is important but all too many have the opinion  they wouldn’t be able to stick with it, that they just couldn’t look at a chart to see what they should study for the next hour. What if they are hungry or tired or meet a friend?  They are thinking about working with a RIGID Schedule.

The best Time Management Plan is Flexible. It has extra time built in for those times when something interferes with your study plan. It takes into account that students need more time in a subject just before tests and a little less time after a test. It takes into account that you will need more time to study some subjects and less time in other areas.

A well-balanced Time Management Plan includes scheduled time to call parents, to spend time with friends or go on dates, to do laundry, or to participate in school organizations. Some students think a schedule will make them feel guilty when they miss a study time.  Actually, knowing you completed the work YOU planned to do,  means you don’t need to feel guilty when you spend a couple hours or even a weekend with your friends.

Other areas for organization include space, materials, and money.

3. Successful Students Practice Good Classroom Habits

They never miss a class. They never get to class late. They never email or text or surf the web or go to sleep in class. They never make rude remarks in class or complain that the teacher is unfair. They never leave a cell-phone turned on.  You knew all that, of course. And you know and practice many other good classroom habits.

Students who prepare for a lecture usually learn more and make better grades. They do the reading assignment before the lecture. What difference does it make when you read the chapter?  They also review their notes from the previous lecture.

Students who take time to talk to the teacher after class or in their office usually learn more and make better grades. No, it isn’t because the teacher likes them better. Students who know the teacher better often understand what the teacher wants students to learn.

Students who sit in front or near the front of the class usually learn more and make better grades. Is that because smart students like to sit in front or are there real advantages to being in front?

Students who sit up straight or lean slightly forward usually learn more and make better grades that students who lean back in their seats. Why should your posture make a difference?

4. Successful Students Practice Good Homework Habits

To begin with, of course, Successful Students do all assignments carefully, neatly, and turn them in on time. Everyone knows that.

It is a good idea to do homework, especially in math or math-related classes, as soon as possible after class. It is easier to do the problems while you remember what you just learned. Successful students do most of their homework soon after it is assigned.

Is it better to find a quiet place and study alone, to study with a friend, or be part of a study group? Is it better to set aside two or three hours for reading and homework or it is best to study in shorter time periods?

5. Careful  Test Preparation

Some students plan to wait until just before a test to start their preparation, thinking they won’t need to worry about forgetting the information. This is the worst possible way to prepare for a test. Information that is memorized at the last minute never moves from short-term to long-term memory. It will all be forgotten in days or weeks. Some is forgotten by the next morning when you take the test. Staying up late to study also means you are tired and this leads to poor memory, poor judgement and poor thinking.

Successful Students begin preparing for tests when they read the first chapter and attend the first class. But if they start so early, won’t they forget most of the information long before the test?

What are the best ways to prepare for a test?

What are the best ways to remember what you are learning?

6. Successful Students practice Independent Learning

  • They want to Learn and Remember material, not just pass a test and then forget.
  • They take Challenging Classes because they realize they will learn more in these classes.
  • They might Decide to Learn in areas unrelated to their classes.
  • They take advantage of Learning Opportunities beyond school. They might work with a mentor, do an internship in an area they are interested in, travel, or do volunteer work.