Study Like D.J. Tanner

Full HouseOh, Full House. You have given us so very many important life lessons.

As a child of the 80’s and one of three sisters myself, I especially related to this show. See Donna Jo Tanner, D.J. as we all grew to know and love her, was the eldest just like me, and a bossy but loving older sister, just like me. She was also studious and mindful and always the diligent helper, just like me.

How You Study is Just as Important as What You Study

In the episode where Uncle Jesse is studying for his Driver’s Test, which he has previously failed a few times due to poor study habits, DJ teaches him that how you study is just as important as what you study.

Taking a lesson from my sitcom friend, here are three applicable ways to study smarter:

1. DJ Says Find a Quiet Place with Limited Distractions

In everyday life, we are constantly distracted from the task at hand. Finding a quiet place without the beep of a text message or the ring of someone’s phone is nearly impossible. Even in our homes the TV is on, someone is talking on the phone, someone is listening to music, someone is playing a video game — it’s constant noise! For a child that exhibits any tendency towards distractablity, impulsvity, has ADHD or is just hyper-sensitive to the lack of calm, drowning out the noise can prove to be extremely difficult. And less focus means less long-term memory.

DJ says sit at the table or study in a quiet place with limited distractions. This means setting up a Technology-Free Zone in your home or going to the library after school and reserving a study room. Making the extra effort as to where your child studies is key to making sure he remembers the material.

2. DJ says No Eating While Studying

DJ  makes it clear that eating while studying is a no-no. Eating before studying, however, is actually food for your stomach and your brain.

I recently took on a new student who exhibits tendencies of ADHD. He’s super smart but has the “wiggles” and finds it difficult to stay in one place for longer than 10 minutes. For example, during our one hour session, he needed to leave the room 3 times and leave his seat 4 times. Now, I’m not religious when it comes to studying at the table or sitting in a chair. Most of my students can’t tolerate sitting for a great deal of time– they need to be on the move. So we do our best to mix it up, especially when his energy engine is running low.

This kid amazes me though. He knows he has the wiggles and so instead of making a big deal about it, he is learning to use tools and strategies, like the use of a fidget, standing up when needed, sitting on a wiggle seat or a Bosu ball, and taking small, unassuming breaks, to help ease those difficult, unfocused moments.

Together, we set Academic Goals and Behavior Expectations. He thought of the expectation “To Eat Before Tutoring”.  When I prompted him as to why he replied, “Because it helps me focus.” Even at the tender age of 10, my student knows that his mind and body are connected.

DJ would be proud.

3. DJ Says No Music Too?

Here’s where DJ and I disagree a bit. (Sorry, Deege).

I think music can help a student focus better, as long as it provides a sense of calm and is set at a low decibel level where it becomes background noise instead of a dance party. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Homework Dance Party breaks (I’m a pretty cool Tutor, after all) but when it’s time to get down to the business of studying, we gotta turn down the volume too–just a bit.

Great advice, Teacher D.J.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student.  Want to Know More? Head on over to

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