Know how to study efficiently is a lifelong skill. It seems that some children were born knowing how to get their homework done and study for a test, but there are children (and adults) that need to learn how to develop these skills. For many children studying can be overwhelming. If you are dealing with homework battles, my insight is you consider if your child knows how to study. Learn how to study smarter involves knowing how to be organized, to set priorities, and activate working memory, so the information learned at school migrates to long term memory. If you are dealing with battles at home, the first step to help your child is paying attention to identify where the struggles are. Consider these questions:
- Does your child know what to study or there is a lack of organization?
- Does he or she use a systematic method for studying or an inefficient one (spending long hours studying)?
- Does he or she have difficulty remembering the information even when he has studied, or maybe the challenge is expressing what he or she knows?
What to study
Teach your child to take ownership of his or her academic life. Teach him to check in with the teacher about the content of the test, or ask the teacher to provide a study guide or a practice test. Also, teach your child explicitly to write down on the calendar or a notebook when the teacher offers clues about essential details to focus on when studying for a test. Usually, teachers signal importance saying:“Write this down.”“Let me summarize.”“This is important.”“I’ll write this on the board.”“Remember…”
How to study
One of the most important ways of studying smarter is knowing how to select essential information from what is detail, as well as being able to retell what you just read or learned in your own words. Teach your child:
- Textbooks offer clues to identify relevant information and trigger what he or she have learned at school. Teach your child to review the chapter using section headings and convert them into questions. For example, the header “Atomic theory” might be changed to “What is an atomic theory?”. After that, teach him to scan the words, phrases, and sentences that appear in bold because they are important and use them to create a word mapping as a study guide. Doing this, the brain will retrieve what he or she have learned at school.
- Now use active reading strategies, encouraging your child to use colored highlighters or Post-it notes to flag important information in textbooks and class notes. This will help him review the material more efficiently.
- Teach your child to summarize: take notes (writing section or chapter summaries on sticky notes), use voice recording, or answering questions at the end of each chapter are good ways to develop this skill.