The sooner you form habits, the more ingrained they will be as you get older. Middle school is the perfect time for students to figure out what works best for them and build good routines before they hit high school. The following are our recommendations for essential study habits for middle school:
Establish Your Workspace and Workflow
You may have already established a set workspace during the pandemic, especially since we were all learning and working from home, but make sure that space is a productive one for you.
– Do you have enough room to put all your books, papers, and materials?
– Are your school supplies—like extra pencils, pens, highlighters, graph/lined paper, calculator, etc.—nearby?
– Is it quiet enough in this area for you to be able to concentrate fully on your work?
Associating a place with an activity, like working or studying, can help tell your brain what you should be doing when you’re there.
Build the routine that you will use throughout your school career. Aim to come home, head to your workspace, and work on any homework you may have as soon as possible. It’s always easier to keep productivity momentum up when you’re already in the swing of things than trying to restart after taking a break. Definitely make yourself a healthy snack and have a refreshing drink while you work, but try not to put off homework until too late.
Set Up Organizational Habits Early
Many schools require students to use a daily planner for a reason: having one place to keep track of all your homework, extracurricular activities, and other appointments means that you always know where to look to check that you’ve gotten everything done. Not every teacher is good at putting homework on the school portal or Google Classroom. Even as an adult, I still use a planner to keep track of everything I have to do—I wouldn’t be able to remember all of it otherwise!
Sort out your binder. Consider dedicating a space for every class in your binder using dividers, or set up a binder and organizational system that works for you. If your binder has folders, you might put in progress homework on one side and completed homework to be turned in on the other. Keep extra lined paper in your binder for notes. Now is a good time to see what kind of binder setup makes the most sense to you, and stick to it.
Keep these habits up throughout the year. It’s always easier to do a little bit every day than try to put things off to do in a big chunk. The first month or two will be the hardest, as you work on solidifying your routine. However, with practice, you’ll have a work schedule that will keep you on top of your assignments.
Figure Out Your Studying Style
While many of our first instincts are to re-read notes and/or the textbook when studying, more interactive study methods are more effective. Consider making flashcards or study quizzes; you can use sites like Quizlet and Kahoot to create fun and interactive study sets. You can use your school login to create accounts with both websites.
Involving friends is not only fun, but also can help you study better, too! Discussing problems with friends and explaining concepts to each other is a great way to check how well you understand that topic. You can create those Quizlet sets or Kahoots together and compete against each other in a Quizlet matching game or a Kahoot quiz. Feel free to get creative!
If you’re interested in more advanced study techniques, you can try out the famous Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and work steadily on a task or assignment. When the timer is up, take a short break: 5-10 minutes, maximum. Then set your timer again. After four sets of 25 minutes (each called a ‘pomodoro’), take a longer break: 20-30 minutes. These breaks help you absorb the information you were processing. For those wondering, technique creator Francesco Cirillo used a tomato-shaped timer in university. He thus named the Pomodoro Technique for the Italian word for ‘tomato.’
Finally, if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to your teacher and ask for clarification on the class material or feedback on your assessments.
We hope you find these essential study habits for middle school useful! If you want more one-on-one time with someone to help explain challenging concepts or if you are interested in a custom study skills course, Mundo Academy is always here to help, too!