As September winds down, most U.S. school children have been in full learning mode. A recent study shows that not only does paper still have a role in the classroom, but its use and importance is growing. This year’s Paper and Productive Learning: The Second Annual Back-to-School Report, commissioned by the Paper and Packaging Board, surveyed 4,300 students, parents and teachers. It showed that 64% of K–12 teachers feel students comprehend information better and are more engaged when they read on paper. Close to two-thirds of K–12 teachers reveal their students even respond better to lessons that are based in paper textbooks.
So with that in mind, how do you keep that back-to-school momentum growing throughout the year? Check out these productive learning tips from Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year:
Take it offline: Develop an organizational system that keeps kids on track
Organization is a learned skill and one that parents can model to instill successful habits. Start with a sturdy binder or accordion folder that will last the year. Use color-coded, labeled, and hole-punched folders—one for each subject—to keep track of schoolwork. Make sure there are sleeves and pockets in the binder to hold graded work and loose paper. Check in frequently and show your child how to keep, file, or recycle their work.
Give school supplies more real estate at home
Students benefit from a fully stocked homework space. Clear space in the closet or designate a cardboard magazine holder for school supplies. Keep a supply of lined and printer paper, a stack of colored construction paper, blue and black ink pens, glue, sharp scissors, a set of markers, colored pencils, a stapler, and notebooks on hand, and make sure your child has a well-lit space at the kitchen table to work.
Don’t push too hard: Encourage regular brain breaks
Like adults, kids are busy. They need time to power down for a bit so their brains can rest and absorb content. When studying or doing homework, they should set a timer for 15 minutes, and during that time, try to power through schoolwork with undivided attention. When the timer goes off, have them walk away. After a 5–10 minute break for pleasure, they should return and start the process over again. Most students report needing three 15-minute power sessions to get through an entire night of homework.