The following newspaper articles were written
by Cheryl Feuer Gedzelman,
Director of Tutoring For Success, Inc. Check back often to read newly published
Falling Behind in School? Some Tips to Catch up and Become More Organized
Cheryl Feuer Gedzelman, MA
Sam moped into the house with a glum look on his
face. "What's wrong?" his
mother asked the usually cheerful 13 year old. "I have too much homework," he
complained, "and I still don't understand the Math we did last month.
I'll never catch up!" Indeed, his grades had gradually diminished
as he fell farther behind.The hopeless feeling of not being in control
can prevent students from making the effort needed to jump back up. They
most likely feel overwhelmed and stressed. Some students have always had
difficulty organizing time, materials, and homework assignments. Others
have difficulty reading, writing, and studying efficiently and effectively.
For many students, good time management, organizational techniques, and
solid study skills can help them regain control and may be the key to success.Sam,
like most students, can greatly improve his predicament with the help of
a parent, friend, or tutor. Have your child follow these guidelines, but
let him be in control of study patterns and organizational techniques.
It is important for each student to learn to organize his time and study
habits in ways that work for him. The following tips can be modified for
students of all ages.
Write Down a List
are always writing down lists, and sometimes the lists themselves become
misplaced. Keep a special small
notebook for all lists. First, list your general goals.
Here is Sam's list:
1. Catch up on Math - figure out inequalities and absolute value. Also
learn those awful problems about 2 trains passing each other.
2. Hand in English assignment from last week.
3. Find a way so this week's homework all gets done.
4. Find time for all this before or after baseball practice.
5. Organize papers so they don't get lost.
OK, that is a list of general
goals. It may be overwhelming, but it is usually a comfort to write them
down. Now it is time to break the list down into parts. Does Sam have
a homework notebook? Probably. Does he always write down all his homework
in it? Maybe, maybe not. What about long term assignments, such as projects
and major tests? How are they handled?
Keep a Calendar
Every student should
have a homework notebook which travels between home and school. In addition,
it is helpful to use a large desk calendar to display the month as a
The space for each day should be large enough to write down at least
four comments. Copy assignments from the homework notebook to the calendar.
Note the days of special events, when little homework can be done. Note
any test or quiz as soon as the teacher announces its date. For each
in between the announcement and the test, list what you will study. Cramming
at the last minute is not as effective as spacing out the studying. In
addition, cramming is unlikely to result in long term retention, which
is why it is useful to keep up with the material all along, before any
test is announced. Do not forget to note due dates of long term projects
along with which piece of the project you expect to accomplish each day.
Jot down all homework assignments on the calendar. Capitalize, highlight,
or use a different colored pen to write all due dates and test dates.
Science Study pgs. 12-20
Math pg. 35
LA pg. 20
Science answer practice questions
Math pgs. 36
Dinner with Dad
Science - review weak areas
Math pg. 37
LA pg. 23
Go to library for moon books.
Take notes for moon project
More notes + outline
Essay on dogs
Start writing report
Review for Math test
Finish report & edit
Practice problems for Math test
MOON REPORT DUE
Alternatively, use your homework assignment book in the same way as a calendar.
Sam's Assignment Book
MONDAY, APRIL 7, 1997
SCIENCE Study pp. 12-20
Organize Your Papers
Every paper should be in its appropriate folder or notebook,
never loose in a backpack. Using one folder strictly for homework and parent
notices decreases their likelihood of becoming lost. Every quarter, clean
out the notebooks. Save notes and tests that you may need for a midterm or
final at home in labeled files.
Develop a Catching-Up List
List all the subjects that need catching up, whether
it is an assignment that is overdue or something you just did not understand.
For each subject, write down specifically what you need to do, when you will
do it, and whether it requires someone's help. How can you tackle the assignment?
Who can help? Try to catch up on only one subject or assignment in a day.
a Daily Homework
Make sure your work space has all necessary supplies
- paper, sharpened pencil, ruler, etc. This way there will be fewer excuses
for interruptions. Work in a space away from distractions such as TV and
visitors. Review all homework at the beginning of the homework session, and
visualize what completing it will be like. Then ascertain which homework
may need someone's help, and schedule that assignment for a time when help
will be available. Prioritize assignments. First complete the ones due tomorrow,
and then begin the longer term projects.
Sam should adjust these times to reflect the amount of time expected for
each subject. One subject may take longer than expected or there may be a
delay due to a phone call. (Of course, Sam should keep the phone call short
on a busy homework night.) If Sam has not finished his Math homework by 8:30,
he could tape the TV show. If he does not have time for the overdue English
assignment, perhaps he can reschedule it for the weekend. The schedule is
not written in stone, but is a guide. It is better to have a plan you can
modify than to have no plan at all.
Is Homework Taking Too Long? Can study
skills be improved?
Some students take hours and hours to do homework that
other students do in one hour. If you think your child spends too much time
on homework, talk to her teacher to find out how much time the homework is
expected to take. Then ask other parents how long their children take to
do homework. Good study skills should reduce homework time. A student can
read more efficiently by focusing on main ideas, visualizing, skimming and
scanning. Organizing ideas for writing is difficult for many students. Writing
process techniques such as brainstorming, outlining, organizing paragraphs,
using more colorful language, revising, and editing are helpful. Studying
for a Math test should include not simply reading over the chapter, but practicing
problems, particularly those in perceived weak areas, and checking the answers.
Sam catch up? Yes! He needs to figure out what he needs to do, write it down,
create and follow a schedule, and learn study skills that will improve his
knowledge of the subject matter and simultaneously decrease the time required
for daily homework. He may need help from a parent or tutor. He definitely
needs to be motivated to put in the time and effort required to catch up
and improve his grades.