Technology Distractions

Technology Distractions

iPhones, iPads, iTunes, iPods…I STUDY?

By Stern Center for Language and Learning

Distractions have crept their way into our lifestyles for better or for worse. And as great as they are in connecting us with the world at large they can present challenges when it comes to study habits for our preteen and teen population. Would you rather come home from school and tune into myriad of distractions or tackle the stack of books facing you? Because of the widespread use of electronics — which can become very addicting — it is important to develop good study habits early on. These will transfer to good work habits as our teens enter the employment arena. 

As with many things in life, some people develop good study habits without much effort and stick to a “work now and play later” ethic. Others let the big “P” (procrastination) get in the way and put their work off to the last possible moment, which can often lead to a lack of sleep and endless parental nagging. And yet there is another subset of the population who struggles with what neuroscientists have called “executive function.”  Executive function refers to all the cognitive processes that allow us to achieve goals — from initiating and planning to prioritizing and organizing. For individuals with executive function difficulties, it is not a question of motivation or effort; they just don’t know where to start and how to proceed. But the fact remains that school work needs to get done. Developing a strategy that works for your teen’s learning style and personality is key not only to a successful academic career but to life beyond school as well.

There are countless articles and tips out there on this subject but keeping it simple is important. Here are six strategies that might be helpful:

  1. Create an organized space for your kids in which your kids can do their homework each night. Stock it with school supplies.
  2. Create a filing system for old handouts, tests and homework assignments.
  3. Teach your kids to break up big projects into smaller steps.
  4. Prioritize the steps and estimate how long each will take.
  5. Use the calendar to “backwards plan” and allocate time to work on each step.
  6. Openly model these strategies, so your kids see you using them.

There are some people who — even with the best of intentions and implementation of strategies — still find themselves scattered and unorganized. When an individual feels like things are not working, it might be time to seek the help of experts. According to Sage Bagnato, education diagnostician at the SternCenter for Language and Learning,“Teaching students how to study not only helps them to be more efficient and effective learners but also enables them to become better problem solvers and critical thinkers.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come home to a countertop without papers on it, or to not have to rifle through a backpack to locate the overdue permission slip? Wouldn’t it be nice to not always be the “nag”? Although there is no silver bullet, there are simple steps to implement to create a more organized environment that keeps students on task, and there are great resources to seek out to help you in this process. Now is the perfect time to get started on a path that promises great rewards for the entire family.

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