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5 bad habits that affect academic performance

Published:Monday | September 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Taniesha Burke, Contributor

Another school year has begun and our children are getting into the routine of classes, homework and tests. Their success throughout the academic year is dependent on their level of dedication and commitment to their curriculum.

Students who have excellent time-management skills, and are disciplined, may perform better academically than their counterparts, who are neither disciplined nor focused on their studies.

There are several bad habits which may hinder children from performing at their optimal level. They include:


Putting off homework and projects for the last minute may seem to be a good idea for some children, but it does adversely affect the outcome of their academic performance. Waiting until the last minute to do assignments increases the possibility of making more errors and submitting a mediocre paper. Excellent papers and projects go through several drafts and editing; rarely are they completed in one draft. Encourage your children to develop a schedule for studying and working on assignments, and help them to stick to it. This not only build time-management skills, but it also helps them to spend more time on their schoolwork, which often results in better grades.

Too much television and social networking sites

Children who watch too much television or spend too much time on sites such as Facebook, perform poorly, academically, compared to children who spend less than two hours engaged in these activities. The more television and social networking sites are viewed, the less time is focused on studying and completing homework. Limit the number of hours your children spend in these activities.

Bad sleeping habits

Students sometimes have the habit of staying up late working on assignments, watching television, or simply hanging out, which often causes them to be tired the next day. Lack of sufficient sleep does affect the functioning of the brain, specifically the ability to remember information. Encourage your children to get at least eight hours sleep every night; and also encourage them go to bed and wake at the same time every day. This may seem impossible, but it can be achieved through good time-management to complete their assignments and study on time.

Not exercising

Children need regular exercise to keep physically healthy, but more important, it is needed for cognitive functioning. Exercise increases blood flow to the hippocampus in the brain. This part of the brain is important for learning and memory. Exercise also reduces the stress levels. Engage your children in 10-15 minutes of exercise each day.

Bad eating habits

With a hectic school schedule, children may be tempted to skip breakfast, and sometimes lunch, to quickly go through their daily activities. They may not only skip meals, but may be more incline to eat fast food that are high in fat and cholesterol and low in calorie. These meals do not provide sufficient energy which is needed for them to efficiently go through the day. A diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat is also known to have an adverse effect on memory.

While shopping for the home, you should purchase more fruits and vegetables which take little time to prepare and can be easily taken to school. Purchase foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, flaxseeds, sardines, cooked soybeans, walnut, cabbage, broccoli and kiwi. They improve learning and memory. Additionally, insist that your children eat a balanced breakfast and dinner each day. As much as possible, reduce their intake of fast food, food with artificial colouring and sodas.

Taniesha Burke is the author of the book 'Raising the Next Barack Obama: A Guide on How to Develop Core Principles for Success in Your Child'. She can be reached for comments at