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Four Easy Ways To Help Your Elementary Child Study


It's the moment you dread: your third-grader walks up to you after school on Monday and hands you a vocabulary list. He has to know it for a test on Friday. What's the best way to help him study? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Yeah, I thought so. If you're a parent of an elementary child, grades 1 – 5, and you're wondering how in the world to help when a test is coming, then listen up! Here are four easy ways to help your elementary child study for that quiz or test!

Help Your Middle School or High School Kids Prep For a Test

#1: Let Your Child Pretend To Be the Teacher

Child dressing up as teacher
Getty Images

Why It Works: Kids like to pretend. Yes, even the older kids. They like to pretend to be runaways and build makeshift forts in the woods behind the house. They like to pretend they're rock stars in front of the mirror. They like to pretend that they are racecar drivers, cowboys, police officers, chefs, scientists, and doctors. Use your kid's sense of make-believe to your advantage and help your child study by letting him or her pretend to be the teacher during your review session.

How It Works: Tell your elementary child that you'd like him or her to be the teacher for this study session. Give him or her a whiteboard and marker and anything else to turn them into a real teacher. Get into your own character immediately. (Yep! You're playing, too!) You get to be the [sullen, eager-to-please, rowdy, insert your own adjective] student. Have your child teach YOU the vocabulary words, book chapter, or study guide by asking child-like questions along the way to help steer the conversation toward correct responses. Make sure you're confused about things your kid understands easily (confidence will rise and he or she will be eager to show it off), and correct mistakes in character! If you're playing one of the know-it-all students: "But teacher, I thought that Lansing was the capitol of Michigan. Not Detroit! Teacher, do I get a sticker? Do I? Do I? Hunh? Hunh?"

The Payoff: Not only do you get to have a little fun with your child, your child gets a sense of being the power-player in your exchange. Being the "boss" will boost his or her confidence level, and we all know that confidence leads to better scores.

#2: Bring In The "Expert"

Getty Images | Ronny Hartman

Why It Works: Like it or not, your kid loves Batman. Or Rainbow Dash. Or Justin Bieber, for crying out loud. You don't have to like it, but you can use the passion for a character or famous person to your advantage. Your elementary child may not like it when you help him or her study, but they would be over the moon if Rainbow Dash showed up, right? RIGHT. So, send out an invitation!

How It Works: When your kid hands you his or her study guide, let him or her know that an "expert" teacher will be studying with you on your next study session. Don't let on who it will be. When you show up to study, bring your character with you. Print out a picture of [Justin Bieber, Batman, etc.] from the Internet, cut it out and glue it onto a ruler or Popsicle stick so it can serve as a mask in front of your face. (Don't argue. Just do it.) Then, introduce your character with a title of "Batman, superhero of multiplication tables" or something. Once you begin your study session, ask questions in character, even if your kid thinks it's silly. Refuse to go back into parent-mode. It won't take too much convincing if your kid realizes that you're determined to stick to your guns. Remember that Batman would be sure to add lots of "Kapows!" and "Zaps!" when your kid gets a question right, and I'm quite sure Justin Bieber would have to sing some "Baby, Baby, Baby."

The Payoff: Again, making study time a little silly can be just what gets your child to engage when you're trying to review. Plus, you're expressing an interest in something your kid likes, which will reinforce how much you really care. Win-win!

#3: Make Your Study Session Active

Basketball With Dad
Getty Images | Lori Adamski Peek

Why It Works: Children, by nature, have ants in their pants. They need to move and I mean, M.O.V.E. You know this as well as I do. It's difficult to take your seven-year-old out to a lengthy dinner without a bunch of whining and wriggling all over the seat. An hour-long church service can be torture. Doctor's offices waiting rooms may as well just post a sign that says, "Warning: Your Kids Will Be Cranky By The Time We See You." Sitting still during a review session is, for many kids, just another time an adult is forcing them into a seat. So, use those wiggles living inside of your child to your advantage and form an "active" study session.

How It Works: Tell your kid that you're going to go [shoot hoops, swing the bat, bounce a tennis ball, jump rope, etc.], and that you're going to ask him or her some questions while you play together. So, if your kid has chosen to play basketball, ask your child questions from the study guide, book chapter or vocabulary list while he or she is shooting. He or she can pass the ball to you and you can shoot while your child is answering. Keep track of the questions missed and enforce a penalty shot (granny, behind the back, etc.) for every incorrect answer. If your kid is jumping rope, have him or her answer after every five successful jumps. Bonus points if he or she can fit the question into the rhythm of his or her feet. "Prime numbers under 11 are 2, 3, 5, and 7."

The Payoff: Kinesthetic learners need to move to learn. Young boys often fall into this category, but girls are often here, too. K-learners' minds will retain more if they are moving when the study session hits. As an added bonus, you'll get a mild workout in, too. Hooray for multi-tasking!

#4: Sneak in Mini-Reviews

Mother and daughter in minvan
Getty Images | Comstock

Why It Works: Parents are busy. We have work. We have dinner. We have the incessant, never-ending pile of laundry. Kids are busy. They have sports. They have drama. They have the incessant, never-ending pile of homework. It's tough to squeeze in an hour-long review session several times a week before your kids' big test, which is why doing 2-3 mini-reviews a day can help your kid prepare for the test at the end of the week without a one-stop study session.

How It Works: Make a copy of your child's review sheet, vocabulary list, or chapter questions for yourself, and divide the copy into equal parts according to the number of days before the test. (i.e. if you have 4 days before the test, divide the sheet into fourths). Assign each of the days before the test to one of those sections. (On Tuesday, you'll tackle that first section). Then, keep the review sheet handy at all times throughout the day when you're with your kid and make use of the downtime for mini-reviews. Quiz him or her at red lights as you're driving to school or sports practice. Don't let your child up the stairs without telling you the countries in Central America. Your kid wants dessert? Not without explaining the differences between condensation and evaporation. Sneak in a review question or two any time you can throughout the day until you've finished the entire section. By the end of the four days, you'll have finished the review sheet and your kid will be ready for the test.

The Payoff: Mini-reviews are a great way to keep the topic on your child's mind throughout the day, which helps them remember things better long-term. As an added bonus, you will never need to deal with the problem of wiggling and giggling. Since you're only asking a question or two at a time, they won't have a chance to get bored!

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