Homework Myth Busting – A New Look At Study Skills


When it comes to homework, one of the problems I hear from parents is: typical advice doesn't work.

As a licensed counselor and parent consultant, I work quite a bit with parents who are trying to help their kids be more successful in school. In fact, I have seen so much anxiety from parents about their kids schoolwork that I am writing a book on the subject: Homework - A Parent’s Guide To Helping Out Without Freaking Out!
When it comes to homework, one of the problems I hear over and over from parents is that the typical suggestions and advice that they have heard doesn’t work.

“I’ve tried that. I didn’t work.”

So this got me to wonder why some of the advice about homework doesn’t work for so many students. This began my search into what we are missing when it comes to study skills.

The great news is that there are some amazing research projects happening world-wide, some recent and some a number of years old, that shed light on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to homework. In the next few articles, I will share with you some of the myths about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to homework.

Myth #1 – Study in a Quiet Place
We have all heard this one. Find a quiet place to study, free of distractions. That way, you can focus on your work. This piece of advice works for many people…except for those who hate it!

This piece of advice, in my opinion, is perpetuated by those people who have benefited from a quiet place to study. “Since it works for me, it should work for everyone.” If your student is the type that will benefit from a quiet place, she probably will seek that out on her own. If she is the type that seems to need to create some type of noise, then she is a part of the group that learns better with something going on around her.

What recent research tends to put this idea to a big challenge. In fact, many kids do much better when there is some type of sound around them. For some kids, the idea of studying in a quiet place will drive them nuts. It’s quiet, too quiet, for them. Some kids would rather do their work in the kitchen, or the dining room near “the action.”

The research is pointing to this idea: If your brain has to work a bit harder to store the information, it will do a better job of putting it somewhere more permanent. Strangely enough, adding a small bit of sound distraction will, for many students, actually increase the learning by making the brain work harder.

TV still tends to be the deal breaker. It is pretty clear that television provides too much of a distraction and doesn’t enhance learning.

If your child is the type that goes a little nuts when it is quiet, ask her to pick some music to play, quietly, while she studies.