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My Teen Won't Study

The learning doesn’t stop when your teen leaves the classroom, and yours may have hours of homework to prove it, so it’s important to make the most of those after-school study hours. After all, that’s the business of being a student.

North Texas counselors say the keys to maximizing your teen’s after-school learning are consistency of routine and organization.

DISD counselors recommend a special set time for studying. This can be preceded by some after-school down time, and should certainly include a break or two. “If they say they have no homework, they should have a book to read so that they have to do something at that time,” says Robin Fall, DISD’s counseling supervisor.

Organization is also important and leads to better time management and prioritization skills. This can be in the form of keeping an agenda or learning how to take notes in class for better use at home. Dr. Janet Miranda, director of guidance and counseling at Prestonwood Christian Academy recommends the Cornell style of note taking.

The Cornell format divides paper for note taking into two columns, says Dr. Miranda. In one column, the student makes short notes including key words and phrases. After class, the student should go back and fill in the other column with more detailed information on each point. If done within 24 hours, the student should be able to remember thorough details, and the rewriting process helps ensure she will remember it in the future, on the exam, for example. 

“I think balance in your activities and the ability to focus on one thing at a time will help a child not burn out too soon,” says Plano mother Karma Travis. Travis’s eighth grade daughter studies at their kitchen table, not so she can be monitored, but so that she has easy access to two parents who usually have the answers when she gets stuck. “When you study on your own for a test, you aren’t positive if you know the material or not without being quizzed and hearing yourself say the answers.”

And, as Dr. Miranda points out, “Homework is just the first step to mastery…mastery requires STUDY!”

  • Introduce agendas/calendars to get teens used to planning their days
  • Establish firm routines and a special set time to study
  • Consider limiting extracurricular activities to a number that allows your young teen to focus adequately on an increased workload


  • As teens get older, it becomes more important to learn how to take notes
  • Monitor their study time less if grades are still good
  • Make use of study breaks, like a snack or a walk outside, to help increase focus


  • Try SQ3R method, which is helpful for dense reading assignments and analysis (also helps with long term memory)
  • Time management, prioritization and organizations skills should be well-honed for more difficult college work on the horizon

Sources: Robin Fall, DISD counseling supervisor; Sylvia Lopez, DISD Executive Director of Counseling Services; Janet Miranda, Ph.D., Director of Guidance & Counseling, Prestonwood Christian Academy; Karma Travis, Plano mother of two.