Encouraging strong study habits in Kindergarten

My son just finished Kindergarten at a Honolulu public school. I put away his report cards, the parent newsletters, the lunch menus, and the PTO fliers.

As I looked back at the school year, I thought about how much he has learned. I thought I’d take a moment to share 5 ways I helped my son build good study habits:

1. Create studying routines. Kids like to know what to expect. On the way home from school, I reminded him of the things we needed to do: write one or two sentences in his school planner; finish his homework (if he has any) or pages in a workbook; do a coloring page or craft project (for birthdays or thank-yous); and two or three online practice math tests. I also let him make some decisions, such as what task he wants to do first, and what rewards he wanted for finishing his work.

2. Praise hard work. I praised him for his hard work, for finishing the task, and for not giving up – not just for being “smart.” I stressed that it’s okay to make mistakes and reminded him that we can’t quit.

3. Use humor to deal with frustration. When kids get frustrated, I’ve found that humor can really help. Sometimes I made silly noises when he got the right answer – or the wrong answer. Sometimes I raced him to see if he could answer the math word problem before I could read it. If he finished a worksheet that was difficult, I sometimes filled the page with stars or happy faces. If humor didn’t work, a short break (playing with toys or eating a snack) gave both of us a chance to calm down and try again.

4. Start a field trip journal. To encourage him to remember events and write in sentences, we started a field trip journal using story-writing paper (a blank space at the top and lines at the bottom). After every special event – a birthday, a museum visit, a festival, a kids workshop – he drew a picture and wrote a sentence or two describing what he did that day. I helped with prompts and spelling, but I tried to let him choose what he wanted to write.

5. Start a “50” challenge. Towards the end of Kindergarten, I suggested a “50 Book Challenge” – he would read 50 books (at the 1 or 2 “Step intoReading” or “Reading Readiness” levels), and he could choose a toy or reward. It was a lot of books, but not too many that he would feel discouraged. He put a stamp on the chart and wrote the title of each book. Not only did it encourage him to read, it made him start planning for his prize, and cut down on the times he asked to buy a toy. You could also do other challenges, like a “50 Page Math Practice Challenge” or a “50 Hour Music Practice Challenge.”

How do you motivate kids to study hard? What are your best tips to build good study habits?

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6 Comments on “Encouraging strong study habits in Kindergarten”

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