The notion of academic success is often talked about as if it were a destination that an individual arrives at, usually reaching fever pitch in the final years of secondary school. In my experience, academic success can mean different things to every student. It is very much aligned with an individual student’s own personal goals.
I like to think of academic success as a series of milestones that have been met over a student’s lifetime – little wins along the way, heavily influenced by many external factors, and the by-product of positive interactions and relationships with teachers and parents. As an educator and a parent, I’ve certainly always found the foundation for academic success is inextricably linked to planning, organisation and preparation.
Here are my top 5 insights into how students can plan and become accountable for their own academic success:
- Academic success starts with planning: Students need to understand what time they have available outside of school hours and how to best optimise that time. Encourage your child to draw up a calendar or study diary that allocates time to study, and how it can be fitted in around other valuable activities and leisure time. A plan creates a sense of structure and discipline, and also reduces the potential for conflict with parents. Creating time for effective study is a clear way to plan for academic success. At EACS we issue all students with a planner to aid this process.
- Being organised creates calm and promotes independence: Strong organisational skills are central to effective study and success. Simple things like making sure bags are packed the night before, with all the equipment needed for the day ahead, means no panic about what to take to school. This encourages students to start thinking ahead, get in 'the zone' ready to learn, and encourages personal responsibility. Punctuality has been shown to have a positive effect on academic outcomes, while tardiness has a negative effect on achievement. Parents play a key role in student organisation. Talk with your child about their timetable, some simple probing questions like ‘Have you thought about what time you’ll finish study in the library to get to football training this week?’, ‘How do you think you’ll manage the extra music recitals this week?’
- Establish consistency and routine around study time: Firstly, ensure that your child has a quiet space, with good lighting and ventilation for study. Next, the key is to encourage your child to establish the habit of consistent and regular study time each day. Quantity is no substitute for quality, but the following times can be used as a daily guide:
- Year 7: 45 minutes per night during the week
- Year 8: 60 minutes per night during the week
- Year 9: 90 minutes per night during the week
- Year 10: 90-120 minutes per night during the week
- Years 11-12: Two to three hours per night during the week plus time at weekends as needed.
- Sharpen those study skills: Many schools, including Esperance Anglican Community School, offer study-skills programmes to help students develop effective study skills. Study skills provide a clear route to effective study and also take into account that not all students learn or retain information in the same way. Key tips include:
- having a clear programme for study built-in to the week's schedule
- using a homework diary to organise work requirements
- set deadlines and targets
- develop effective note-taking and note-making skills
- use of mind maps
- use of memory mnemonics.
- Timely and specific teacher feedback improves student outcomes: Much research supports the idea that timely and specific teacher feedback is one of the single most effective means of helping students to improve their levels of attainment. Teachers routinely give feedback but students also need to ask questions to establish clearly what they should be aiming for, how they are faring and, perhaps most importantly, how they can improve their performance. Parent portals, such as SEQTA, enable teachers to comment on individual pierces of work which students can see. Encourage your child to review these comments and talk with them about what they will do differently next time.
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