How do children master new information, think critically about it, and feel confident about their understanding of the material? Effective studying techniques can support all of these learning goals. Like any other skill, studying takes regular practice in order for children to develop competent study practices.
Four key elements of study skills that help improve your child’s academic progress are: note-taking tips, studying strategies, tips for types of tests, and test-taking strategies.
Good note-taking is the backbone of an effective approach to studying. Children must budget time for this work, choose a style that works for them, determine what to include in their notes, cite their sources, and learn to use abbreviations where necessary. The initial time children spend taking clear, efficient notes will save them time later and increase their understanding of new information. Most children take notes by paraphrasing concepts in their own words while reading a text or participating in a course. Children should choose a note-taking method that works best for them. Certain course material might lend itself to a particular approach. Some examples to explore include outlines, diagrams, sample problems, and timelines. A good note-taking system will allow children to write clearly and quickly, use a format that includes the date, and visually separate topics so that the notes are easy to reference later. Children who actively review their notes periodically retain more information and make connections between topics. Laurel Springs School teachers regularly meet with children to brainstorm note-taking ideas for their courses. The ability to take good notes will help save time and effort when children prepare for quizzes and tests, and will help keep them organized for larger papers and assignments.
In addition to note-taking, other strategies help support good study habits. Not every child learns the same way. For example, some children assimilate new topics by discussing them other people, while others need to hear new information presented audibly. A child might absorb information better if they draw a mind map that connects a new topic to other concepts, or do a hands-on activity. Generally, children remember more from studying if they employ a range of techniques, and use multiple senses such as seeing and hearing. One of the most effective study strategies is for a child to teach a new topic to someone else. Help your child adjust their study methods according to what works best for them.
Once your child feels proficient in note-taking and other study strategies, they should explore different types of tests. Some test question formats include multiple-choice, true/false, and essay. Children can tackle multiple-choice questions by eliminating the options they know are wrong, and then selecting the best choice from the remaining answers. Children should read true or false questions very carefully, as one word (such as always or never) may determine if a statement is true or false. When presented with an essay test, children should organize their ideas into a simple outline before starting to write.
The next step is for your child to learn strategies for doing their best on test day. It’s important to be prepared with all the required materials (such as a calculator). Children should sleep well the night before a test, and eat a healthy breakfast on test day. The day of the test, take a moment to review the sections of the test, note any difficult parts, and determine the best approach. Children should answer questions carefully, while prioritizing their time. After completing the test, review and proof-read answers if time allows. Last, children should embrace confidence. They can remind themselves of the work they did to learn and review the material, and view the test as a way to show their understanding of the topic.
Laurel Springs School supports children’s study skills by providing tools for homeschoolers, such as the school calendar, the student services virtual office, and a live online homework help room that is staffed with teachers. Children who develop positive study habits feel empowered to achieve their goals for academic success.