Charlie is a perfect example of an intelligent young man in search of the best homework tips to cut his study time in half.
He is a smart young man, but he wasn’t always showing it in school.
When I first met him, he was in the middle of eighth grade, taking one of my study skills classes.
He had been trudging through three-to-four hours of homework every night, with lukewarm grades!
His mom was concerned because homework was “stressing him out” and was the source of many family arguments.
Within a few short weeks, however, Charlie learned study skills and the best homework tips that helped him cut his homework time to less than one hour every night – and improved his grades!
I asked Charlie to share the best homework tips and top three study skills that made the most difference for him.
After noticing a significant improvement in his study productivity, this is what Charlie had to share.
Best Homework Tips To Cut Study Time In Half
1. Get Organized!
“I didn’t realize how much time I wasted looking for things,” explained Charlie. “My notes, homework assignments, folders, textbooks…I spent so much time digging through my book bag for things.
“Many times, I had to ask my dad to drive me back to school because I forgot stuff in my locker.
“He was never happy with that, it took a lot of time, and he always wondered whether I would ever learn how to do my homework properly.”
To help Charlie get organized, we condensed his 14 different folders and notebooks down to ONE binder.
It was instantly easier for him to track papers, assignments, and notes because everything went in one place.
By doing this, we also reduced the volume of his supplies by 60%, which instantly resulted in a more organized book bag and locker.
Just doing this one simple thing helped him know he was on his way to learning the best homework tips.
We also talked about his locker routine, so he was less likely to forget things at school.
Charlie recalled, “You pointed out that every time I’m at my locker, I’m in a rush. I’m rushing to class, to lunch, to the bus…no matter when I’m at my locker, it’s always a rush.
“So, I had to figure out how to get what I needed quickly. I broke it down, and now I ask myself two questions every time I’m at my locker, which keeps me focused and helps me get everything I need.”
2. Power Down!
“I really didn’t like it when you first suggested that we turn off all of the electronics,” said Charlie.
“But this was huge for me.
“When you said that electronics will always control us unless we learn to control them, I decided to take the advice one night. I turned off my cell phone, the TV, and the computer.
“I couldn’t believe how fast I got my homework done! For me, this was one of the best homework tips ever!”
Charlie’s experience is something I am hearing more and more in my study skills classes over the last several years.
“I always figured that the TV, cell phone, and stuff helped make homework less boring,” he said.
“Now, I realize it is the other way around. When everything is off, I can concentrate better, get my homework done faster, and then have more free time to do that stuff later.”
3. Think of Homework as a Study Guide!
“I used to do homework just to get it done. I didn’t think much about it. But now, I think about homework differently. You called it ‘active learning,’ and I am starting to see what that means.
“I don’t just hunt for answers, I try to think about what I am doing and make connections to anything I can; something my teacher said in class or sometimes, I’ll think of links to something completely different.
“I also use the key question you shared: ‘How can this homework assignment help me study for the next test?’
“It’s simple, but it keeps me thinking more about my homework, instead of just trying to get it done. When I’m really thinking about what I am doing, I get it done faster.
“And, I’m getting better grades because I know I have the best homework tips to help me!”
Schools Do Not Teach How to Learn
Charlie is like many of the students I work with, in my study skills classes; he found great success from applying these best homework tips and strategies to the process of learning and doing homework!
Study skills – which are strategic learning skills – are not taught in schools.
The national and state standards that teachers have to abide by are ALL content.
There is absolutely no focus on teaching students how to learn.
Charlie was floundering because he had no system for success.
Once he learned a system of strong study skills plus the best homework tips, however, he was unstoppable!
Every student can benefit from learning study skills; “good” students are thrilled to learn how to get those good grades in less time.
“Struggling” students are thrilled to learn that there is a reason why they are struggling (no one taught them how to study) and that there are study skills that work!
But what if there is more to the problem? How do you know if your child needs additional help?
Identifying Homework Problems
Follow the ten-minute rule.
Many research studies confirm that “ten minutes per grade level” is the optimal amount of homework.
For example, a first-grader should do ten minutes of homework each night, a sixth-grader up to 60 minutes, and a 12th-grader up to 120 minutes.
With proper study skills, this amount of homework time can be cut in half, but these time limits are a good benchmark for what is reasonable at each grade level.
During this time, students need to complete homework with minimal support from you as the parent. If this is routinely NOT the case for your child, then something is not right.
If that is the case, determine the root of the problem; is it your child or the homework?
If your child is struggling to complete homework within the “ten minute” guideline, he may simply need to get organized and learn a few strategic study skills, plus the best homework tips, like Charlie did.
Recognizing If Your Child is Experiencing Learning Challenges
However, pay attention for signs of a health problem or learning challenge.
If your child is having a hard time sitting still, needs things repeated several times, is squinting excessively, or simply isn’t “getting it,” despite several attempts, these may be signs that something more than just study skills is needed.
Talk to your child’s teacher and pediatrician right away. Keep notes on your observations and stick to your guns!
If there is a learning challenge, you may meet with some resistance along the way, but your persistence and friendly cooperation with teachers and doctors will be the key to getting proper help for your child.
Your child needs a strong foundation so he or she can learn the best homework tips effortlessly.
Do not be quick to judge these challenges as “laziness.”
Laziness is rare in students! If it is apparent, then it usually happens after a student has experienced so many difficulties in school that he feels defeated.
In fact, when I hear a parent or teacher say things like “He’s lazy,” “She’s just not trying,” or “If she would just try harder,” it triggers a strong warning in my mind that there is likely something else going on.
Usually, there is.
Homework itself can be the problem, if too much is being assigned or if it is not assigned appropriately.
Homework should only be a review of content covered in class. The purpose is to provide practice, not instruction!
If your child is complaining that he “never learned this in school,” that may be true.
In these cases, arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher(s) and politely explain your concerns.
Most of the time, teachers are simply not aware of these problems because they typically don’t get feedback; most families just suffer in silence and don’t communicate appropriately.
You must use your judgment to determine how far to push homework issues with teachers, but you should not be suffering in silence!
Homework is a significant source of stress and frustration for many students and their families, but it doesn’t have to be.
When homework struggles require active intervention, look for the cues, and trust your instincts.
However, 90% of the time, a few excellent study skills are all you need to make a world of difference with the best homework tips, which can help cut study time in half.
These tips helped Charlie out by greatly improving his grades and cutting homework time in half.
Now, I’d like to hear if you worked for you.
Write in and let me know which tips you are going to try!
[ Updated – November 11, 2020 ]