This week we hear from resident practice-expert Emily Conway, Math For Keep’s own Student Intake Specialist! 

It’s Back-to-School time and all across Austin pencils are being sharpened, backpacks are full of fresh, crisp school supplies, and parents are asking that ever-daunting question: how do we make this year the best yet? Maybe your student finished strong last year but hasn’t touched a notebook since school let out. Maybe you both made it through the homework battles of last year by the skin of your teeth and you’re dreading the start of the new semester. In any case one thing is certain: you want to set habits in place from the beginning that are going to set your student up for academic success this year and beyond!

Three Habits for Success in Math:
1. Focus on learning, not on grades! A passing grade doesn’t indicate mastery of skill and a failing grade doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of knowledge. A student can be struggling with a skill but bolster grades up with good class room participation and extra credit. A student might be well on the path to mastery, but suffer from test anxiety or just not be able to complete the assignments in the time given. Find ways of measuring your student’s skills that are independent of grades and you’ll keep the focus on long-term success, not immediate results.
2. Space out your studies as much as you can. Homework time can quickly become a battle zone, but it doesn’t have to! Often we think the longer a student sits and works on their homework, the “better” a student they are, but this can actually be counter-productive, especially if the skills are outside of their Zone of Proximal Development and the frustration is mounting. 15 minutes a day 5 times a week spent on practicing skills will lock in learning better than a 2 hour marathon study session on a Sunday night!
3. Review early and review often. Take 15 minutes each week to review with your student skills that they haven’t seen since last year. Was there a test they studied for and just barely passed? Visit it again in a month and see what skills they still need to practice- then make sure those are worked into your practice rotation (even when they’re not on the homework brought home from school!).  It may not be what they’re studying in the classroom this week or even this month, but you can be sure those skills are waiting in the wings and you’ll be seeing them again soon!

Points to ponder.  Fun stuff to roll around in your head, or better: to talk about with your learner!
What’s on your start-of-school to do list? Which subject is your student most looking forward to? Which classes have you most worried?