One of the goals of education is to provide students with the study skills that they will use as lifelong learners. Having the right study skills makes learning more accessible to students. As soon as students enter school, it is important for them to have a strong foundation for studying in class and at home. As a child ages, learning becomes more complex, but more techniques for studying are available. As students return to class after winter break, take the time to review with them what they can be doing independently to improve their learning. Sticking to positive study habits is one resolution any age learner can make; plus, it’s a perfect opportunity to utilize those great school supplies that one may have received for Christmas!
Instruction and Direction
Understanding instructions and directions is one fundamental part of having strong study skills. Kids need to recognize what they are being asked to do and what expectations must be met. Many teachers of young children have kids repeat back to them what they are supposed to accomplish for an assignment. No matter one’s age, a child must learn to ask immediately when confusion or uncertainty is present. Only when this is clear will a child be able to perform accordingly.
Another aspect of having good study skills requires children to learn at an early age that the organization of one’s time and space are crucial for success. Supplies need to be in order, and distractions must be removed. Setting aside ample time for completing homework and studying learning materials is necessary. This kind of time is often carved out for them when at school; however, students are going to have to become responsible for creating their own routine at home. While it may be easy for parents of elementary-aged students to encourage children, older students must take the initiative to study on their own. Prioritizing among assignments and home responsibilities will be necessary for older children. They will have to learn what must be done first, what must be done in one sitting, and what can be saved for a later study session.
Learning to pay attention to key words and definitions is important for kids at an early age. Elementary students may begin to read actively by highlighting in different colors terms and the words that define them. As students progress in grade, reading becomes more complex and learning to use context clues can help them understand difficult passages. Students can practice making flashcards featuring key terms or new vocabulary on one side and definitions or explanations on the opposite. Once students have more experience with language, they will find that learning about a topic may require them to paraphrase or put into their own words the information they encounter.
Note taking in class and during one’s own independent reading is another key study skill. At an early age, students need to be able to distinguish between key points and supporting details. They may begin by copying what the teacher presents to them with visual aides in class or by recording word-for-word what is read in a textbook. As students enter middle school, they should be proficient at listing key points and noting their details in their own words. Some students may find that rewriting their notes helps them to remember the concepts and facts that will be needed later in a course.
Annotating texts is one skill that kids can learn early and build upon as they enter subsequent grades. Along with highlighting, students should practice making notes about the thoughts they have as they read a text. Youngsters can note why something seems important and make predictions about how a part of a text relates to the whole. When students think critically in later grades, they can compare or analyze the information they encounter. Interacting with the text in this way helps students to be careful, close readers. It also prompts them to reread for clarification and to deepen one’s understanding.
Know Your Dates
Keeping track of assignment due dates, upcoming tests, and other important events starts in elementary school. During these school years, students often record what is recommended or required by their teachers, and these may need to be verified by a parent when children arrive home. At this age, scheduling events for weeks in advance isn’t usually done. Expectations change, however, as a child grows older. By the time students enter high school, they will be keeping track of how much time they have to complete term papers, study for finals, and prepare for high-stakes testing.
Developing solid study skills early in one’s school career can help students reach success in their academics. Starting off strong can have a positive impact on one’s learning. For the new year, review age-appropriate study skills with your students. Encourage them to make these habits part of their resolutions for the year ahead.