It is sometimes tempting over summer vacation, or any break in routine, to get lazy in healthy habits. The problem with habits, though, is that while they are easy to break, they are not always so easy to develop.
Successful student habits in your child are no different. While there are many factors involved and personal characteristics at play in order to develop a successful student, making and maintaining these six habits is an important foundation for academic achievement.
Regular Bedtime Routines
While there are always exceptions to the rule, children (and even adults) get better sleep when following a consistent bedtime routine. Getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a book—whatever the routine is, stick with it. These routines help to trigger the brain that it is now time for sleep resulting in a more restful night.
Because every child is unique, sometimes more creative ways of getting your kids to bed are needed, such as this better bedtime routine offered up by A Mom with a Lesson Plan. Every family and child is particular in what works best for them, but the bottom line is to be sure your child is getting enough sleep every night, consistently.
The Benefit: With more sleep comes improved focus, academic performance, information retention, and overall health.
Daily Physical Activity
Whether it be first thing in the morning to get the blood pumping or later in the afternoon to burn off some energy, pick a time of day that works best to get your child involved in some form of physical activity. It doesn’t have to be a structured exercise program—it could be simply running in the yard, playing catch, going for a walk, or anything else that gets your child up and moving around.
The Benefit: Increased physical activity and exercise will promote creativity, concentration, positive emotions, and boosted memory.
Reading and Journal Writing
Setting aside a block of time each day for reading and writing in a journal not only advances a child academically but will also give parents a chance at some quiet time. Have your children pick out a favorite book each day, read aloud or silently, and then give them the freedom to write in a journal about what they learned. This reinforces the content of the book, as well as practices their writing skills.
The Benefit: Reading and journal writing will expand vocabulary, sharpen grammar and punctuation skills, and improve handwriting.
For all of us no matter the age, snacking and nutrition are directly related to our productivity. As blood and glucose levels fluctuate during the day, so does focus and concentration. Planning ahead for nutritious and frequent snacks throughout the day will help to keep a child on track without periods of fatigue or mental grogginess. As days get busy, this is definitely an intentional habit to develop to avoid skipping meals or forgetting to bring snacks with you, leaving you having to resort to junk food.
The Benefit: Enjoying periodic healthy snacks throughout the day will boost mental clarity, enhance academic performance, and promote good behavior.
Manners and Respect
Practicing good manners and showing respect for authority are less obvious successful-student habits, but no less important. How students treat peers and authority figures at school, and in life, will directly relate to their success. Classroom behavior is a volatile balancing act for teachers, and those children with good manners are better able to develop a positive and engaging relationship with their educators and administrators. This relational and mutually respectful learning environment is more conducive to accelerated learning than one in which the teachers are constantly having to correct and discipline.
The Benefit: Demonstrating good manners and respect will accelerate a student’s success, not only in school but also as they get older and pursue college and careers.
While some children are naturally more prone to positive thinking than others, it is essential to a student’s success that they maintain a positive outlook on learning. For those who struggle with this, it requires getting into the habit of turning negative situations into positive ones. For example, if a student absolutely hates math and wants to just give up, break it down for them into small goals. If one specific worksheet is overwhelming, take it one problem at a time and celebrate each correct answer. Train your child to focus not on the larger and overwhelming task in front of them, but instead on the progress they’ve made so far and the small victories made every day.
The Benefit: A positive approach to learning will provide motivation to excel and counter any feelings of giving up or dropping out.
While you are working on these six successful student habits with your child, consider developing some of these yourself. The same principles that apply to student success apply to grown-up success, too!