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Combatting Academic Atrophy

With winter break on the horizon, students are preparing for a well-deserved holiday from school. Just because students don't have to worry about assignments for a few weeks doesn't mean that they should stop improving themselves. Learning should be a part of someone's daily routine, like brushing your teeth. Mental maintenance is a key part of self-care that will pay dividends over your lifetime. School breaks are a great time to develop daily habits to prevent academic atrophy.

Start Small

As with most principles in life, it's important to start small and work your way up to more difficult tasks.

Tutor. Study. School.

With learning, it's easy to get overwhelmed if you set the bar too high. For example, if you want to improve your reading comprehension, expand your vocabulary, and become a more cultured person in general, a reading habit of one hour per day may be too much at first. Instead, start with a more manageable goal of fifteen minutes or just ten pages per day. This approach is a better way to guarantee you'll keep the habit, instead of quitting when you get frustrated and miss a day or two.

Pick a Regular Time

Choose a time in your schedule that makes the most sense for mental maintenance.

Tutoring center. Kumon. Mathnasium.

For example, regularly playing Duolingo at the same time every evening will train yourself to make this task a habit. Regularity is a key part of transforming a one-time chore into a natural daily habit.

Make Learning Fun

If a task is enjoyable, you will be more apt to complete it repeatedly.

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Learning outside of school should be as fun as possible, so you will maintain it as a lifelong habit. Great ways to keep learning fun include apps, such as Khan Academy, or watching educational videos on YouTube. If you want to improve your reading comprehension, pick a novel in your favorite genre. Additionally, setting educational goals and tracking your progress along the way is a great way to gamify learning. Goodreads' annual reading stats is fun way to see your progress and compare to your friends, which also adds a competitive element to your daily reading habit.

Accountability Is Key

School and teachers are wonderful learning sources, but they should not be the only resource for your education.

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Your teachers have to accommodate multiple students at the same time, while also staying on track with the curriculum within a limited time span each day. It's impossible for them to cover everything you need to be a master of your subject. To prevent academic atrophy, it is imperative for students to have accountability for their learning outside of the classroom. For example, having an academic mentor, such as a tutor, is a fantastic way to be held accountable for your learning outcomes.

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