Tips for effective study
By Sandra Ketterer Mar 1, 2012, 3:06 GMT
Berlin - Most students dread studying at home especially after spending the morning and half the afternoon at school. There are too many distractions, too much noise and few have the discipline it requires.
But educators and psychologists say that when it's quiet enough in the home and students are able to prioritise the material they need to learn, homework and studying for tests can be done.
'Switch off the radio, TV, and mobile phone and clear off the desk,' Andrea Heiliger of Germany's federal association of tutors and after-school programmes said, naming some of the basic requirements of successful at-home study. 'Everything that is distracting should be removed from the student's direct field of vision.'
Heiliger added that a well ventilated room, sufficient sleep and healthy food also help students concentrate. Taking breaks is also very important.
'It doesn't help if I start studying at 4 pm and I'm still at it at 8 pm without having taken a break,' said Heiliger. The interruptions, however, should be limited to a set amount of time and should not be thought of as a chance to stop studying.
Students also are advised not to start studying directly after school. Experts say it's better to spend at least a half hour doing something other than studying - cycling, listening to music or playing - before hitting the books.
'You should enjoy a short break immediately after getting home from school, doing nothing that requires concentration,' said Marion Mueller-Staske of Germany's professional association of psychologists. Mueller-Staske agreed with Heiliger that it should be as quiet as possible in the room where a student is studying.
'Siblings shouldn't be playing in the same room,' she said. If it isn't possible to send them outside or into another room, then an understanding must be reached. Mom might have to consider playing a game with a younger brother or sister while the older child does their homework, Mueller-Staske said.
Mueller-Staske believes the best place to study is at a desk. She maintains it's harder to concentrate while lying on a bed or sitting on a sofa. When parents have time and are able to work quietly, students can study with them now and then.
'It can help to explain homework to parents,' said Mueller-Staske. 'If you get stuck on something, one knows where the gaps are.'
When parents have no time, a friend, relative or neighbour can take over the job. This is not to say that the friend, relative or neighbour can replace a tutor, rather the idea is to have someone who accompanies the student through the learning process.
Sibylle Kroll, school psychologist at a vocational school in Munich and the author of a book about studying, said good organizational skills are decisive in the success of a study regime. When there is a lot of homework and many exams, students should make a list and fix a study schedule. In addition they should not procrastinate.
'Homework that isn't due the next day is often left sitting,' Kroll said, adding that when the material is studied only once right before a test much of it often isn't retained.
Thus, it is better to look at the topics covered during class quickly later that same day. Also, students should avoid studying similar material after learning a particular topic. Studying English, then Latin and then French is not a good combination because the brain cannot do a good job of storing so much similar material. Thus, it is better to alternate study of mathematics and English, for example, Kroll said.
After studying it's a good idea to do something completely different such as jogging, yoga or taking a nap, said Eberhardt Hofmann, a psychologist and author. He favours short but intense periods of study.
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