For many students, success in high school is dependent on their ability to study effectively and efficiently. The results of poor study skills are wasted time, frustration, and low or failing grades.

For the next four weeks, I will present a series of articles about how students can develop effective and efficient study skills. These articles will contain some of the best and most effective techniques of successful students - those who typically have high grades in high school regardless of the courses they take.

Let me say right from the beginning that there is no magic formula for success. Studying requires work!

However, by using the techniques described in these articles, and by applying themselves, your children can gain a valuable edge in understanding material, preparing for tests, and, ultimately, learning. This week we will discuss the importance of having a schedule.

Importance of having schedule

Before your children even begin to think about the process of studying, they must develop a schedule. If they do not have a schedule or plan for studying, then they will not have any way of allocating their time.

A good, well-thought-out schedule can be a lifesaver. Use the suggestions below to show your children how to develop a schedule that meets their needs, and then help them follow it.

Make every hour count. A good schedule should take into account all school time, extracurricular activities, and other work in which students engage. Since school time is pretty constant throughout the year, the focus of scheduling must be on the "free time" available, and how your children will use it.

Make a weekly schedule, and block off the 24-hour day in one-hour increments. Indicate times for school, extracurricular activities, and work time. Also block off a period for sleeping each day. Having a visual representation of the time they have available will make it easy for your children to schedule in a time for studying.

Schedule study time. The problem of when to study is critical. A good rule of thumb is that studying should be carried out only when your children are rested, alert, and have planned for it. Last-minute studying just before school is usually a waste of time. Therefore, establishing a routine can be a big help. Set a time of day for studying, and have your children study at that time every day. Some may want to study right after school, or they may want to schedule their study time after dinner, or later in the evening. They will also need to study for a specific length of time (an hour or two) every day. The important thing is for them to adhere to their plan on a daily basis.

Making and revising a schedule. Although a well-developed schedule will keep your children from wandering off course, all schedules should be made with the idea that they can be revised if they are not working, so do not be afraid to do so if needed.

A well-developed and thought-out schedule is your children’s foundation for developing effective and efficient study routines. However, in order for the schedule to be effective, it must be workable, and used for the purpose for which it was intended - to help students develop good study habits – and, most importantly, followed.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed., MA, is a teacher with 30 years of professional experience. You can write to her at with your questions or comments.

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