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How you can get in on the studying action
How you can get in on the studying action
Today we’ve got some great ideas for you about helping your teen study as a family, courtesy of Michael Gifford.

We’ve been lucky enough to get to know and learn from Michael over the last six months. Michael has been a prominent figure in our education system for over 40 years, working as a secondary school teacher, principal, and university administrator.

While Michael’s own tertiary study included an MA (Honours) in History, for the past 15 years his workshops have been motivating and inspiring New Zealand students to reach their potential both at academia and extra-curricular activities.

If you’d like to find out more about Michael and how he can help your teen you can visit his website,

Some Ideas For Family Study

As a parent, do you know what topics your teenagers are covering in each subject?

Do you know what assignments they are currently engaged in?

What research they are undertaking?

What books they are reading?

What talks or seminars they are working on?

If your answer to these questions is ‘No’ then some of the ideas below might be worth investigating.

1. Read the same novels and short stories as your teen is studying.

Then take time to discuss them together – how you enjoyed them, the plots, characters, themes, endings. Offer suggestions on assignments they may be writing about them.

2. Discuss the TV and newspaper news with them.

What is important to you may not be important to them. But what IS important is listening to other points of view and discussing these.

As this year progresses, having a viewpoint on MMP, for example, could provide for a valuable discussion.

3. Work on a combined Mind Map with your teenagers.

If done together, these combine the three main ways in which we learn – using visual, hands on, and listening techniques. A mind map of a novel or play, of a history topic, of a science experiment, of a geography theme, is a useful way of taking notes and learning at the same time. And it can be fun!

4. Turn learning vocabulary of a foreign language into a fun activity

You could do this by:

5. Carry out internet research together on topics they are studying.

Just showing your interest in their work is important.

6. Ask the HWWWWW questions

How, When Where, Why, What, Who?

Ask them about any topic, or get them to explain one of the areas they are currently studying – an Economics theory, or a Maths theorem, or a Science experiment.

After all, the best way of learning is to have to teach it to someone else.

7. As a family read scenes from a play they are studying or even act them out.

In Hamlet, kids will probably enjoy taking the roles of Hamlet or Ophelia, for example, and see how their parents cope with Polonius or the Queen. Plenty of discussion can take place here too.

8. Offer an ear

If your teenagers are preparing to give a speech, offer to listen and provide constructive comments.


There are many ways parents and other family members can work together to make homework and study both more interesting and valuable.

If a teenager feels he or she is not isolated and alone in studying and that there is a positive feeling of interest and encouragement in the home, then learning will definitely occur.

Having time with your kids is important.


If you have any thoughts or comments on Michael’s article please share them with us!

Image Credit: San Jose Library at Flickr


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