Get your kids to Self Study – 4 Effective Steps

Studying is not as easy as one makes it out to be. It is common across households to see parents sit with their kids to help them and supervise their daily studies. Self-study or unsupervised study is an art. It’s a skill that one acquires via continuous practice. It requires dedication and passion to inculcate study as a natural extension of oneself.

I was no different

As a child, I loved getting coached by mom. However, as I moved to higher classes, self-study seemed more exciting and rewarding.

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What is Self Study?

Studying without the supervision or oversight of a teacher, parent, guardian or tutor is self-study. Unsupervised study is not as easy as it sounds primarily because

  1. It requires self-driven passion and motivation
  2. Self Study needs the discipline to organize oneself and pursue studies
  3. It requires a self-regulated mechanism of feedback and course corrections to achieve one’s goals.
  4. One must be confident in one’s ability to pursue one’s goals with determination.
  5. Unsupervised studying demands one to be true to oneself and if required, hard on oneself in the pursuit of one’s goals.

Why is Self Study important?

Students pick up self-study once they reach class 6 or 7. Their mental maturity allows them to realize the power within themselves to engage in studying on one’s own.

  1. Self Study saves a lot of time both for the student and the adult supervising them.
  2. It allows students to focus on areas they know they are weak in and not waste time on areas where the supervisor feels you are weak in.
  3. This system allows one to pursue other areas of passion due to the time saved.
  4. Self Study puts in place a positive reinforcement mechanism. When one scores well through unsupervised study, one’s belief in their abilities increases. This increase allows them to further engage in deeper self-study.
  5. It makes a student self-reliant and independent as they grow up.
  6. Self-study also provides opportunities to find out modes of studying that help maximize learning

Why switching over to self-study proves to be difficult?

Typically, school kids in classes 3 to 7 study in a highly disorganised manner. The study time will have numerous breaks and intervals. This happens because their minds have not been trained to focus on the job at hand for extended periods.

The situation improves only marginally among higher class students. Why this trend?

The rigour imposed by the school timetable

At school, a time table is imposed on the students. It gives them a chance to be mentally prepared for the upcoming period. It also allows them to concentrate on one subject at a time for a fixed, manageable duration of 40 to 45 minutes which is the average upper limit before the mind starts tiring.

However, this is not the case at home. A student opens the school bag, spends time in no particular order completing home assignments. Also, the relatively liberal setting at home makes the child lax.

Distractions at home

Distractions at home are galore. A school’s atmosphere and surroundings are sanitized to make them conducive for kids to focus on studies. A home is not.

Visits to the kitchen, attending to an odd household chore, glancing at the TV, having a duel with a sibling, playing a game on dad’s mobile can easily result in several hours of wasted time.

By the time assignments are done there is hardly time left for any self study.


How can I practice or improve my Self Study methods?

Self-study, as mentioned earlier, is an art. You need to get started somewhere and improvise along the way. Here are a few tips to improve your kids’ self-study routine.

Start with small steps

To study more effectively set small reachable goals for kids at the start.


  • Complete 5 math problems in the next 30 minutes.
  • Read English chapter 1 aloud for 20 minutes.
  • Practice the diagram of the human heart for 15 minutes

At the successful completion of each session reward the child.

The reward could be

  • her favourite cookie.
  • an entry on one’s Brag Board, visible to everyone.
  • It could also be a small contribution to the child’s Piggy Bank.
  • A reward can also be a small break.
  • added minutes to watch the child’s favourite cartoon.

Distance yourself as a parent/guardian

Start small by staying away from your child for 10 minutes at a time after assigning them with a task. Slowly stay away for longer durations by adding tasks to their queue.

  • After this, take up that.
  • If you finish up with science, take a 5-minute break and revisit the Math problems you solved yesterday.

Encourage your child to create a daily timetable

Making a daily timetable before sitting down for studies helps the child to know exactly what is there on the study plate for the evening. Creating a timetable has the following advantages

  1. Mentally preps the child for the next 2-3 hours of study.
  2. Boosts the child’s determination levels to strive for closure.
  3. It lends an orderliness similar to what they experience at school.
  4. The timetable does not allow wastage of time in thinking ‘what next?’, after each subject.
  5. Prevents over studying or understudying of a subject.
  6. Provides a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when the timetable has been followed accurately and the planned study hours have been well utilized.

Link their academic successes with self-study methods adopted

Celebrate the class successes with the self-study routines adopted by the child. Explain to them how this method works better in their favour compared to you, the parent, sitting with them.

Encourage them to incorporate new ways and tips to make self-study a fun practice.

  1. Watch YouTube lectures.
  2. Listen to Audio recordings of lectures.
  3. Prepare flashcards, mind maps and other learning aids.
  4. Teach other peers occasionally to reinforce concepts one has learnt.
  5. Attempt online worksheets and quizzes on the chapters mastered.
  6. Make crosswords and objective questions that can be self-administered.
Self-Study - Infographic
Self-Study – Infographic

As the habit of unsupervised study takes root, your child gains in multiple ways.

  1. Starts scoring better in contests and her self confidence improves.
  2. Gets the stamina and self-determination to put in long hours of study.
  3. She improves her ability to stay focused for extended periods of time.
  4. Self-motivated and finds ways to get herself interested in putting more efforts into studies.
  5. Last but the most important, she gets ready to face life on her own terms.

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