Creative thinking is believed to be a random process, reality is – it requires a routine.
Need for structure:
As students gear up for their exams, they often realize that they are running out of time. This essentially means that they have too much to study in too little time.
As an academic counsellor I get into the discussion of paucity of time a lot during exam times. Then my first question to the student is – “What is your routine?” I have realised that success is not a random process, it needs a structured approach. So, success in academics follows the same rule.
If you are trying to help your child in academics, then help them create a routine. In this process, you can help them identify the non-constructive activities. Then you can help them refine their routine to gain maximum benefit. Discipline in building and following a routine is of paramount importance to their academic success.
Screen time (TV, mobile phones and video games) has emerged as one of the biggest drains on children’s energy. I have observed how students are engrossed in these gadgets, oblivious to the passage of time. Sadly, they do not realise that this unstructured screen time does not add in any way to their learning experience.
This also gets in the way of concentration. Individual attention span has come down to 15 minutes within one generation. This means that today’s students lack the basic skill of focussing on a given task for a meaningful amount of time.
How can you help your kid?
Lead by example
First, have a routine of your own. When your kid realises that your success follows from your routine, they are more likely to follow the same. Monkey-see, monkey-do – It is the most primitive form of learning. We live in the world of distractions. It is our responsibility as adults to train the next generation to develop constructive habits at a young age. Learn it right the first time.
Read books on any topic of your interest, at least one book a month. Then, inculcate the same habit in your kid, regardless of how small the book may be. Readers are leaders.
Designate space and time
The routine should incorporate a proper space and time for the task at hand. Do not encourage kids to conduct multiple tasks at the same time. Multi-tasking is not a virtue. Eg: Watching TV and eating dinner, watching TV and doing homework, playing on the phone while someone is talking to them. Especially with studying, they should allocate dedicated time and undivided attention. If the child needs help during study, ensure that you are available to provide support during the same time.
Respect the routine
Once your kid’s routine is set, respect it and insist that they do the same. It is a skill that will enable them to succeed in the long run. Most talented people fail because they are too random in their approach to executing tasks.
Coach on accountability
Teach your kids tools and techniques that will help them focus on the task at hand. Train them on the need for completion. Do not accept excuses for not doing the job. Help them take responsibility for their actions. Once they practise this as a routine, accountability is developed inherently.
Plan a balanced activity-diet
The child’s routine should include scheduled time for – meals, sleep, study, exercise (games), social interactions (family and friends), personal reflection (doing nothing/being bored). A balanced routine will help them stay on course to successful academic results. Not just academics, a balanced routine is essential for a healthy life.
A lack of healthy routines at the family level is the core reason for students’ struggle at academics. When students come to me for academic coaching, I observe the importance of the influence of their family habits on academic abilities.
I say this because as a teacher I observe students’ apathy towards basic routines. I attribute this partly to the casual approach of families (parents) toward responsible living. The ‘sab chalta hai’ attitude has become the mantra for kids, they are learning this by observing their immediate surroundings.
In summary, the most important lesson here is “Establish healthy routines as a family”.