Encourage children to develop good study habits

Dear Counsellor,
My teenager is not doing well in school and I am concerned. He was a bright child, but he is now failing in school. I try to help him with his homework from time-to-time. And when I do, he does better. However, I work till late and can’t be home to always help him. How can I get him to put in more effort?  Yours Joan.


Dear Joan, encouraging your teenage child to develop good study habits is the most important things you can do as a parent. The skills and values your child picks at this early age will allow him to blossom into an independent, self-motivated achiever. However, if you’re too busy to help him with his homework, there is no single formula for attaining a balanced life as a mother, wife and employee. It’s a personal decision how you combine your career, parenthood and family into an integrated whole to make that balance more manageable. How you schedule your time is the most significant step towards helping your teenage son develop a life-long passion for reading and creating the right path for his future career success.

The first thing to do is to allow your child negotiate work-time with you so that the routine is obvious even in your absence. This has to be a habit that you both create and keep for life. If your child isn't naturally gifted in a particular area, continue to encourage him. Start off by providing easier problems you know he can complete successfully on his own to give him a boost of confidence for the harder ones. Also, create open dialogue with the child’s teachers so they’d support you in a special way as well as joining discussion groups with high achieving friends for extra guidance and collaboration. This could involve special coaching sessions with some of his teachers so as to boost his performance.

Get him equipped with all the necessary academic equipment he needs to use like a calculator, books and ensure he writes notes in class. Also be a role model to your child. Let your child see you do productive things like reading books, preparing presentations for work ahead of time. That will set a great example for him to be proactive. A Child loves getting attention from his parents and will associate learning with satisfying feelings and may want to set aside time for studies without your supervision. If he once does well in class, reward him through surprising him with a present so that he works even harder while expecting more rewards.  However, don't get frustrated if your child is uncooperative or protests work time but Insist that this routine is just the way things have to be done. Be patient and offer to help your child with any questions he might have. He will soon improve his performance and you will be proud of your son.

If he has a reasonable justification for postponing work time, listen to him.

Prepare him physically, mentally and emotionally by setting a conducive study environment free from other interruptions so that that he will concentrate on his work alone.

Their thoughts...

Melyse Shema, Business student
It’s clear that what your teenager needs is an extra-hand after class, like you said; when you help him he does better. Since you don’t have time to help him yourself, get him a tutor to guide him through revision after class and over the weekend.

Aline Ishimwe, Business student
Consult his teachers, particularly about his focus in class. Let teachers know his learning abilities and ask them to follow up on him. Teachers always have methods, material and time for students that need more attention or extra help in.

Jeane Iradukunda, Business person
Find out whether he is facing challenges in his social or school life. He is a teenager, this means a lot is going on in his life, like peer pressure, among other things. Take time out to talk and listen to him. Talk to his teachers and get their opinion regarding his school life.

Chemsa Uwamahoro, Engineering student
Motivate him to work hard. Sometimes what teenagers need is a little push, especially towards something they are interested in. For example, promise to buy him a gadget that he likes when he scores good grades, or take him on a trip. Teenagers are motivated by benefits. Also, hire a private teacher for him.


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