How to Set Your Son Up for Success

By Mr. Rob Messenger, Middle School Learning Support Specialist
Setting your son up for success can feel like climbing Mt. Everest without any ropes, crampons or guides. Why is this so daunting? As part of the Crescent Student Services team, I’ve learned many things from working with the Middle School boys. Much of it applies to Lower and Upper School boys too. Students learn in different ways and at different rates. Study skills that work for one boy may not necessarily work for another. No matter what their learning style is, all boys can benefit from three skills: organization, time management, and active, continuous studying.
We need to show our boys what being organized looks like. Help him find tools that support and encourage his organization skills. For example, by using a paper agenda or an app on his phone, your son can enter and track test and assignment dates, daily homework and his activities in and out of school. If this is done, he’ll be able to see when he can plan to do his work based on his activities.

Time Management
Many of our boys need to develop effective time management skills - it takes practice! When homework is assigned, your son should estimate the amount of time he thinks it will take him to complete the task. This skill can be transferred when doing an in-class assessment. Boys should be encouraged to ask themselves, “How long will this section take me?” We also encourage the boys to break larger assignments into smaller more manageable chunks, again, helping them estimate the amount of time required to complete each chunk.

Active, Continuous Studying
Learning happens best when it is an active, continuous process rather than a last-minute cram session. In the Middle School, we remind students to print class materials from their laptops. The boys are engaged in active studying when they highlight key points, print or write the points by hand, and then ask and answer questions based on the material. You can encourage your son to review his notes from the day’s classes, every day. By doing this, his retention of the material will be continuous, leading to more effective and efficient studying when he is preparing for a test.

Overall, my colleagues and I in Crescent Student Services encourage the boys to take their time and think critically about the learning process. As I explain it to the Middle School boys, the process includes understanding the information the teacher has passed on, the ability to demonstrate this new knowledge and - most importantly, but in my opinion the trickiest part - to retain the newly learned skills.

Learning and using study skills is not a sprint. Once your son discovers how he studies, he will need time to develop his skills and apply them consistently in practice.