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Atomic EDUCATION Habits

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Create academic success in 2021 through consistency

Book Recommendation: Atomic Habits by James Clear

“Success is the product of daily habits - not once-in-a-lifetime transformation.” -James Clear

The start of a new year always brings new goals and personal resolve to transform; to cut out all the bad habits that are holding us back in life, and swiftly replace them with good. But the boldest goals proclaimed on the first often fizzle out only a few weeks into the month.

Why is this? Because we tend to believe that an impressive change requires monumental effort, so we get bored and give up when there’s no immediate change for the effort we put in. What we don’t realize is that the most transformational changes begin to take place with only small, but consistently repeated, bits of effort.

Think about what it takes to make water boil: the temperature rises in small increments so long as heat is applied constantly. Removing the water from the source of heat is much like giving up on a new habit two weeks in - it hasn’t been repeated enough yet to notice a difference. Habits that lead to the changes that accomplish bold, well intentioned goals need to be repeated consistently. The decision to change needs to be daily, through small, repetitive habits that are easy to commit to, in order to build momentum.

One of the most appropriate and useful tools for creating effective habits that I was introduced to in 2020 is the book Atomic Habits, by James Clear. In the book, Clear breaks down the science of habits and outlines exactly how small changes compound over time to produce significant results, and all of the principles he highlights apply directly to the realm of academics, to creating success for your child.

Cultivate an ACHIEVERS Identity

Our beliefs about who we are, and the values that we hold, influence our behavior. Consider for a moment your beliefs about your child’s academic performance and motivation. If your child believes they are a weak, irresponsible student, and you believe the same, then they will behave in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs. How do you change the behavior? Change the belief. Believe that your child is capable of outstanding academic growth and accomplishment, and encourage them to make that a part of their identity.

But there is a caveat here: you still need to give your child room to be themselves. Build a sense of achievement inside of them without forcing them down what you believe is the path they should take (whether it is a specific career, attending a certain school, etc.). This is where you’re bound to be met with opposition and reluctance to perform. It will stifle any natural drive they have to pursue success. What is most important is that your child becomes motivated to discover their innermost potential.

Focus on LEARNING Systems

One of the biggest reasons why people give up on their goals before they reach them is because they focus too much on the end result and don’t create a system to follow that will get them there. For Olympic athletes, their daily training schedules, eating habits, recovery routines, and even sleep patterns are all a part of their system to elevate their performance even just a small percentage everyday. So what are some systems you can implement with your child to help them achieve more academically? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Create a vocabulary journal- for every school day, have your child define a new vocabulary word, record the part of speech, write an example sentence, and write one of their own. (Grade level vocabulary lists are available online to choose words from).

  2. Daily writing prompts - you can find lists of journal questions online, or buy journals online with prompts in them, for your child to answer everyday. Responses only need to be 100-200 words for your child to get just a little practice in.

  3. Read 15 minutes everyday- help your child choose books or news articles (NewsELA is a great resource) and have them read for 15-20 minutes. Then discuss what they’ve learned together to help build their general knowledge base. (Atomic Habits is a great book to read together, and can be used for grades 7 and up).

  4. 30 minute study guide- have your child focus on one subject at a time (outside of regularly assigned homework) and spend just 30 minutes creating a study guide to review and help reinforce what they’ve learned in school.

*To help motivate your child, set goals with them and come to an agreement together on the right system to achieve the goals, as well as a reward for achieving the goal.

Set up a STUDY-FRIENDLY Environment

Environment has an effect on behavior. Putting a book out where you can see it increases the chances you’ll remember to read, and hiding your phone decreases the chances that every notification distracts you from what you’re doing. Design an environment where your child will feel encouraged and motivated to work. Are there any distractions? Do they lose focus if they are the only one working? Do they need a work space separate from where they eat, play, or sleep?

GROW 1% Better Everyday

Water heats up to boil one degree at a time. Your child will grow academically by striving to get 1% better everyday, and you may not even notice the changes because they will be insignificant at first, but they will compound over time to produce incredible results.

For further recommendations from ABLE instructors on how to help your child build better habits for academic success, please send us an email to set up a meeting.

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