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As with most things, starting is the hardest part.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s losing weight, starting a new project, starting a new job, or in your teen’s case, starting to give a damn about school.

Old habits are hard to break. It’s not easy getting into a new routine.

If your teen has been fairly useless before now about doing homework and studying for exams, then installing good study habits isn’t going to happen overnight.

It will happen, but we’re going to have to start out smaller and work our way towards getting the grades your teen is capable of.

So, what’s the first thing you need to do to get your teen’s study ball rolling?

First thing to do, is to try and get your teen on board.

As you’re probably all too aware, nagging is not an effective long-term solution for motivating your teen.

If you want your teen to do well at school, they’re going to have to get on board with the idea.

Try and have a chat with your teen about adding regular homework/study time to their weekly routine. Talk about the future and the importance of doing well at school. The key will be to keep the conversation on an even playing field. This should NOT be a lecture. Their input should be just as important — if not more — than yours. Your teen’s grades will benefit the most from them being self–motivated.

The next step, is to get some sort of weekly routine sorted.

This means sitting down with your teen and deciding (not telling them) when they’re going to do their homework each day, and how much study it’s reasonable for them to be doing.

In my view, homework is a critical part of academic success. It keeps the brain engaged throughout the year and not just when exams are approaching. It forces teens to go over what they’ve learnt at school that day, which is crucial for consolidating information.

How much study your teen should be doing really depends on them and at what stage of the year they’re at. I was always good about doing homework at school, but honestly, I didn’t start studying until the second half of each term.

When exams are in the foreseeable future – maybe two or so months away – is the time that I think teens should start scheduling study time into their weekly routine. Any earlier and it’s really hard to motivate yourself to study.

The next step is for teens who haven’t only been a bit lazy when it comes to school, but who also struggle with the content when they do try.

If they’re really stuck, you may need to see outside assistance.

Being stuck is a really crap feeling. If your teen feels stuck about their school subjects, you can guarantee the motivation to study will be pretty much zilch.

You can’t expect to teen to slave away over the books if they don’t get what’s going on.

If they’re finding the subject difficult, it’s probably a good idea to get them some help.

Depending on the subject and year level, you may be able to help them. If they’re a senior doing calculus, you may have to look at getting a tutor…

If you’re not so keen to be forking out money every week for a tutor, you may not have to. One or two lessons may be all that your teen needs to get them on the right track.

One word of warning though. It can sometimes be tricky to differentiate between confusion and laziness.

Make sure teen has given the work a decent try before they say they don’t understand it. It may just be that they haven’t actually read what they’re supposed to have read, or haven’t gone over what they’ve done in class already.

I hope that if it’s time that your teen turned over a new leaf that these tips help to get them started.

Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask any question in the comments below!

Image Credit: dandeluca on Flickr

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High School Study Advice | The Study Gurus