How to Organize a Good Study Plan
Current teaching methods are opting for a more directed education. In these, the teacher is seen as a guide in the process of student learning. This is in contrast to older methodologies in which the subject was taught in “masterclasses.” However, to help children in this, we need to teach them how to study effectively. That’s where creating a good study plan comes in.
There are many different learning methodologies that are used in teaching these days. These can be either active, constructivist, or reflective – very much in line with Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
As a result, we can see that there is no single correct method for teaching or learning. However, we must adapt the methods we have to the children’s abilities and to the individual conditions.
“Every human being has a unique combination of intelligence. This is the fundamental educational challenge.”
To see which methodology suits each of us best, we need to start building the house starting with the foundation and not with the roof. And, through a simple exercise of reflection and self-criticism, let’s honestly assess how we’re doing our homework in order to obtain the best possible results with the least effort.
Are we making enough time to play and study?
Organizing an effective study plan
It’s quite possible to organize an effective study plan – it’s just a matter of efficiency. To do this, we recommend that your children begin by making a simple schedule with the activities they do in the afternoon.
However, this shouldn’t include those daunting homework activities. They should then write a list of the extracurricular activities they would like to carry out, but which they don’t think they have time for.
The schedule must cover from the moment they arrive home from school until dinner time for primary school children, and then a little more time after dinner for secondary school children. Having said this, you’ll see that with a good organization they’ll rarely need this time to do all their homework.
In this weekly schedule, we’ll need to lay out the time we’ll devote to studying. We’ll need to set aside more time for the more difficult tasks, and less for the simpler ones. This planning helps your children to obtain good study habits without so much concentrated effort.
- The most difficult subjects should be assigned a greater number of weekly sessions. However, they should be shorter.
- On the other hand, we can devote more time per session and fewer sessions for the simplest ones.
- Experts recommend dedicating an average daily study of between 30 minutes and 2 hours for primary students, and from 1.5 hours to 3 hours for high school. This will depend on whether the children are in the middle of exams, or if it’s an ordinary study week.
- It’s better not to study right after eating, as it will make you feel sleepier. It’s preferable to take this time to rest a little before continuing to study with a clearer mind.
What should children do when they sit down to study?
Students are like elite athletes: they need a good place to train, warm up, stretch and take advantage of peak performance hours. It’s estimated that children are able to concentrate for between 40 minutes and an hour, with breaks of 5 to 10 minutes.
It’s advisable to start with a simple task that doesn’t take more than 15 minutes, as a sort of warm-up, and that they finish off with an easy text to read, in order to “stretch their mind.”
The study area should be tidy in order to avoid distractions. These days, information reaches us through so many channels: television, internet, mobile work groups, social networks… they’re pretty much overwhelmed with it all.
All these can be used as ICT methods to carry out their work, but we must teach them to be selective with the information they receive. If not, then it will be nothing more than a mere distraction.
The study plan
The study area must meet requirements that will encourage children’s desire to study and improve their concentration:
- It must be well lit. Of course, there’s nothing better than natural light, but we can replace it with a flexible blue-light lamp.
- We must avoid reflections on the paper. Place the focus in a central position or on the opposite side to the hand we write with.
- It’s a good idea to air out the room whenever we have a break for a rest in order to create a healthier environment.
- It isn’t a good idea to study and listen to music at the same time, as it can distract us from what we’re reading or writing. However, if we’re doing some practical exercises, then some instrumental background music may be beneficial.
- The study desk must have everything we need: pencils, colored pens, highlighters, etc. In this way, we’ll avoid having to constantly get up to look for materials and lose our concentration.
We must make ourselves comfortable but not too comfortable or we might get too sleepy! The chair should be ergonomic and the room should be at a temperature of about 22ºC (72ºF).
Motivation and academic performance in a study session
Both these factors are undoubtedly the most important ones for any study session at any age. Murillo (2013) described performance as: “the sum of different complex factors that work in the person who learns. It’s a value that we attribute to student achievement in academic tasks.”
However, we mustn’t lose sight of the importance of motivation. Here are some inspiring words from educator and philosopher Paulo Freire on the subject:
“Study is not measured by the number of pages read in one night, nor by the number of books read in a semester. Studying is not an act of taking in ideas, but of creating and recreating them.”