By learning some basic study skills, your child can improve his or her report card quickly and painlessly. 

Report card season is here again. Are you, like many parents, dreading the day that your child brings home his or her report card?

The disappointment, tears, and fights that many families experience during report card season are exhausting and often leave families feeling hopeless.

“Why Is My Child Failing?”

The vast majority of schools around the country are not teaching students study skills. 

They are bogged down with national and state-mandated curriculum that focuses on CONTENT, not on learning or processing skills.

It is assumed that somehow, students will automatically know how to learn and get themselves organized.

Meanwhile, many students get lost in school and fall through the cracks simply because they have never learned study skills.

When a child learns that there are quick tricks for reading a textbook with ease or that a simple binder system can help them keep their papers organized, they are relieved! 

In fact, they are excited to learn that they are not “stupid.”  They were simply not applying study skills to their school work.

Students use strategies everyday…to play sports, video games, and even to manipulate their parents! However, when it comes to homework or study skills, they usually have nothing. 

They do not realize that there are shortcuts.   By learning some basic study skills students can dramatically cut the amount of time they spend on homework and studying and improve their grades by turning in homework on time!

study skills“What are some basic study skills we can try?”

Problem: My child is so disorganized!

Solution: Students are disorganized because they are often rushed and they have inefficient systems. Try the study skills below to get your child working towards effective organization:

  • Reduce the number of folders that you child has to manage. 

Most students juggle 7-9 separate folders and 7-9 notebooks… up to 18 different supplies!  No wonder assignments get lost!  Start by stream- lining all folders into one, 1 1/2″ binder. 
Then, have your child “Take Ten” every time they sit down to do their homework; two minutes to put all loose papers into their correct folders and the next eight minutes to review any handouts or notes from the day.

  • All students need to use a homework planner! 

Check planners every night until they are part of everyone’s routine.

  • Get ready for school at night, before you go to bed.

Avoid chaotic mornings and forgotten school supplies by having everyone pack up their homework, book bags, lunch/lunch money, etc. before they go to bed.  They should also set out their clothes, shoes, and jacket at night, too.

  • Have a “Sunday Night Meeting” every week!

Each member of the family should grab their planners/calendars for a 10-15 minute “meeting.” 

Ask your children what they have scheduled for the week (such as sports practices), share your plans for the week (children like to know what to expect, so tell them if you will have a late night at the office or will have to attend a meeting at school), arrange rides home from after-school activities, etc. 

Your week will be much less chaotic because everyone will be on the same page!

Problem: Homework takes forever to complete.

Solution: Homework can take hours, which makes even the thought of it dreadful.  Learning a few basic study skills, however, can cut homework time dramatically. Here are some quick study skills for you to try:

  • Encourage your child to make use of “down” time. 

Students spend a lot of time each day waiting… waiting for teachers to take attendance, for classmates to settle down, for busses to come, or for appointments. 

Suggest that your child tackle his or her homework during these times.  Maybe they can get three math problems done while their teacher takes attendance. 

Perhaps they can do their science homework on the bus ride home.  A few minutes here-and-there can quickly add up to 1 or 1.5 hours of free time later in the evening.

  • Use a timer. 

If you child struggles to stay focused when doing homework, have them set a timer for the amount of time they think it will take to do an assignment.

Encourage them to challenge themself to beat the timer.  They may be surprised at how quickly they can finish their homework when they are focused.

  • Turn off everything. 

Many students try doing their homework while watching TV or instant messaging because they want to make homework more “fun.” 

This does not work! Children can dramatically cut homework time simply by turning the TV and computer off.


…I believe that people will look at study skills in the same way we now view language arts, math, and science. 

It will be impossible to imagine NOT teaching study skills in school.  Study skills do, after all, enable students to learn how to learn, how to organize their lives, how to prioritize time and coordinate communication effectively. 

In other words, they are the skills that allow students to grow into independent and self-sufficient adults.  In the meantime however, you can use the study skills outlined in this article to get your child started on the path to success.

Susan KrugerSusan Kruger is the author of SOAR® Study Skills: A simple and efficient system for earning better grades in less time. She has been working with students to improve their study skills since 1996.

If you are interested in further study skills tips, the free Homework Rx® Toolkit at offers 25 Ways to Make Homework Easier… Tonight! Visit for more information on SOAR® and study skills.

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