Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Good Study Habits Need to be Taught Early

I love teaching. I use to think I liked teaching older kids better than younger ones. The older I get the more I ponder that. I think I would still enjoy teaching literature or history at the high school level again but otherwise high school would not be something I would enjoy. That leaves the division between the older grade school kids and the younger grade school kids.

Most of my students fall into the upper grades of elementary school. I am just no longer finding it as enjoyable as teaching the first through third grades. My favorite grades to teach use to be grades 3-5. I ponder why that has changed. I really think the answer lies in the children's attitudes. The little ones just accept that what the teacher says must be obeyed. I hate it when teaching becomes a police job.

The older grade school set has also been able to develop a lot of bad study habits. If I get the children from first grade and teach them how to write their letters properly, how to narrate and write stories, how to study and when to play it just makes such a huge difference in what is accomplished in a days time.

I think the older I get the less energy I have to spend on fixing old problems that have taken root in the older children. Maybe it's not even  so much a matter of having less energy. It may be more correct to say that I am less inclined to want to spend my energy in that direction.

My dear son, Peter, went to public school in the first and second grades. As a result nobody corrected his handwriting. I am just worn out with the continual struggle to get him to write neatly. I am amazed when I see how some of his letters are formed. He doesn't even know the correct way to write some of the letters and as a result he has been forming them however he sees fit!

I have no choice but to back up and to teach him to print neatly. Last year I noticed his sloppiness and tried to correct it. I naively thought it would right itself by the end of the year, but alas, it didn't! I've been trying to move him on to cursive and I'm still going to do that but now I realize he will need cursive and printing practice simultaneously. This is so frustrating, largely because it seems there are already too few hours in the day to accomplish all that needs done.

Homeschooling parents, you can give yourself a huge break for the later years if you teach your child good habits now. That does not just apply to shooling as we all know, but right now I'm speaking of the academics. As a teacher and a tutor for over 30 years I wish I could tell every parent of young children how important it is to teach good habits from the very first year of school. Here is the list of habits that your child must be able to do with ease by the end of third grade.

Your child must learn:

  • to study quietly
  • to stay at his work until it's done 
  • to work through distractions
  • to read the directions
  • to figure out what the question is asking
  • to answer the question in a complete sentence
  • to form letters correctly
  • to write words neatly
  • to not disturb others

If you can teach this and if your child can learn this in the first three years of school you will save yourself a lot of frustration and headaches. More importantly, you will have given your child the tools to be a success not only in academics but in life in general!


  1. Thankyou for this post, and how true it is. I am homeschooling my ds aged 5 and will be printing out your checklist to remind myself of these aims.

  2. You got me with the handwriting. Out of my 4 sons, only one (my oldest) has fairly good handwriting (3 of them are left handed). Chritian has the worst, and he forms his letters in strange ways, even though he learned them correctly in the beginning. I am determined that Sophie will have good handwriting, and this post has reminded me to really work with her daily on this. Thanks!

  3. PS. how did you put the reactions checkbox at the end of your post?

  4. Yikes I dont recall how I did that Tracey. There was something on the blogger dashboard that asked if I wanted to add it and now I cant find it!

  5. Tracy- if you go to your blogs' design page, you can edit elements, add gadgets etc. It shows you your layout. On the section marked Blog Posts, click edit.
    You can edit how your posts look, tick 'reactions' on the list. and if you wish to customise the options click edit and type in your own words and click save next to it.
    Click save at the bottom of the pop up, the save at the top of the page and its done.

    Sorry for hogging your comments Mrs D.


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