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Study Skills Resources

When I was a high school counselor, I regularly had concerned parents tell me that no one ever taught their child study skills. They just had to figure it out on their own. 


Counseling hundreds of students and as a parent myself of three very different learners, I certainly understand that kids are wired differently, and how even the most supportive and diligent of parents can come up empty-handed when trying to encourage strong academic performance.


It’s important to note that there could be co-existing factors that should be taken into account when exploring a student’s propensity for academic success. These factors include:

  • Learning disabilities such as reading or math learning differences.

  • Conditions that affect learning such as ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, Autism, Anxiety, Depression, etc.

If a student is diagnosed with a condition that interferes with their ability to demonstrate their academic ability, there are school accommodations that help level the playing field. Your school counselor or school psychologist can assist with these. However, a word of caution. Be careful that the accommodations are not simply giving your student permission to procrastinate or letting them off the hook if they lack motivation. One way to determine this: is he or she spending an inordinate amount of time trying but not succeeding? If you see effort but road blocks keeping him or her from success, they may be a good candidate. Ideally, they will work toward minimizing accommodations over time, as they may or may not be able to receive them in college and certainly less likely in the "real world." But while in K-12 they can certainly level the playing field.


It's also important for parents to understand that not every kid is going to get straight As in all classes, particularly in a rigorous schedule of AP and Honors classes. As a counselor on occasion I came across parents who pushed their kids into a rigorous schedule when it wasn’t appropriate for them or when the student resisted. The reality is: some students are average students and that’s OK! There are lots of studies and articles to support the theory that average kids can become among the most successful of any of us. There is a lot more that goes into being successful than a high IQ. And ultimately good grades in "regular"level classes will be received better in college admissions than low grades in advanced classes. There are many colleges that will accept students with a strong unweighted GPA and give them merit aid based on their grades. Our goal as parents and those who support students is for the student to live up to their potential, whatever that may be.


Diagnosis or intellectual ability aside, objectively, it seems that some students just know how to “do school” better than others, and for them, it appears to come down to two things: 1)Possessing a certain level of compliance due to personality or motivation to succeed, and 2)Possessing enough understanding of how to study.


If the difficulty a student is experiencing appears to stem from compliance or lack of motivation, check out my blog here for strategies for the differently-motivated student. 


For those ready to improve but needing some guidance, start with my Organization Tips article then check out the Education Corner resources on this page, which are among the best available for various study skills. My recommendation would be to move through each topic individually. This could take a day, a week, a month or more. We want to make a habit of each strategy and if we try too much at one time, it could be overwhelming and not as effective.


To gauge where the student is currently with study habits, start with the Education Corner Study Skills checklist to identify areas that could use improvement.

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