When your kids exit elementary school and enter their middle and high school years, it’s really important that they have the skills to study efficiently and effectively. This will allow them to gain more independence when it comes to studying and stops them from spinning their wheels and getting nowhere when studying for a big test.
Go over some of these study tips with your 5-12th grader and give them the power to use their time efficiently. Everyone will be happier and more productive once they get these pointers under their belts.
Carve out study time.
Block out a certain time slot each day that is dedicated to study time. Whether they need to finish homework, review daily lessons, or study for a test, that time is waiting for them. It helps to know how much time is needed each day by projecting the week ahead. On Sunday, sit down and take a look at what they plan to accomplish throughout the week. Do they plan to take a big test in history on Thursday? Time will need to be allowed to study for that test. Are they finishing up a science project? Make sure time is allocated to work on it. You get the idea. Knowing your teen has time allowed for each task will take some of the stress out of the week because they won’t be cramming or falling behind.
Use study time sensibly.
It’s hard to avoid distractions, especially when you are home and perhaps the TV is on, people are cooking in the kitchen, or someone is talking on the phone. Make sure your teen has somewhere that is relatively distraction-free to go and study. When there are no distractions, their mind can be focused on the task at hand (studying) and make the most out of their time. If your teen is doing their work on a device, such as a laptop computer, tell them to avoid having any unnecessary windows open. Keeping social media accounts unopened, gaming sites off, etc. will all help to keep them focused on their studies and not distracted by messages and posts.
The evenings go quick – we know! It’s hard to schedule study time that doesn’t conflict with other activities, but try your best. If your teen is too tired, they won’t be able to concentrate and really lock in what they are reviewing. When they are dosing off, encourage them to try a change of scenery. If they won’t be too distracted, have them sit outside on your patio in the fresh air. They need to make good use of their study block so they stay on track and sometimes a change of scenery or a quick 5-minute break will let them clear their head, refocus, and then get back at it.
Develop good note-taking skills.
When you have good notes, studying goes quicker because you don’t have to scour page-by-page for information. They will summarize what you need to know for your upcoming test. When you write notes, it increases the ability to recall that information. Teens can create their own note taking system because it should be one that works best for them. If they are taking notes, and have questions or need to revisit something, have them put an asterisk next to it or some other icon so they can come back to that area later.
When your brain has too much going on at once, it tends not to remember everything and it can also jumble up the information. These factors will reduce your recall ability because you will either be unable to recall the facts or could have them mixed up. Have them focus on one subject at a time and work on it until the daily tasks are completed. Then they can move on to the next subject.
Flashcards are a great way to prep for a test. They can even use their notes as a quick guide to making flashcards. All of the important information should have been pulled out onto their notes. By going through those and making flashcards, they are avoiding skimming every page in the textbook for important information. Flashcards are also an easy way to quiz them and see what areas they still need help on.
Teens tend to lack on the amount of sleep they need during the week. Less than 20% of teens say that they get the recommended 8+ hours of sleep each night. That means over 80% are functioning at a subpar level. Make sure your teen goes to bed at a reasonable time so they are refreshed and ready the next day. This, and a good breakfast, will set them up for a successful day.
What helps your teen the most when it comes to studying for an exam or finishing a big assignment? Leave a comment below and let us know. Others would love to hear what you have to say too!
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One of the most useful skills you can master when you are a student is effective note taking. It’s a skill that will benefit your student not just in their schooling days, but well into their professional adult life. Note taking helps people retain information longer, better understand the information they are being taught, and improve the recall of information.
Think about it – if notes are written in an unorganized, sloppy way, it will be hard to make sense of them at a later time. Add the fact that your handwriting may be messy if you are writing rapidly and the notes you took are basically useless.
On the other hand, good note taking helps you to:
- Remember concepts
- Understand topics in a better way
- Connect the dots between topics
- Engage in active listening to your instructor
- Think about what you are writing
Top Note Taking Methods
In the Summaries Method, notes are broke down into little summaries. To do this method, you would take notes during a tutorial as neatly as you can. After the tutorial, review your notes and jot down key things you need to remember, including key vocabulary terms. At the bottom of the notes, write a summary that highlights the key points of your notes. People like this method because they can quickly scan the summary to see if they need to delve deeper and review that days notes in preparation for a test since all of the main points and concepts are called out.
In this method, you will use headings and bullet points to organize your notes. When you have topics that have a lot of details and nuances, this is the method to use. It keeps your notes nice and organized, and shows a clear relationship between the topics and subtopics. To use this method of note taking, begin each section of notes by listing the main topic at the top of the page (this is your heading) and add bullet points under each heading for each subtopic and/or supporting facts. You may end up with several different indents of bullet points, depending on how much detail needs to be noted.
If you have a lot of information and you want to show how various topics are related, then the mapping method is best to use. It is a visual way to put order to a chaotic topic. Your page of notes will be organized by topic then will branch off into subtopics with additional branches citing detailed information.
When covering topics that have a lot of facts or relationships, charting is an easy way to keep your information organized. This type of note taking is very clear and easy to follow. Key pieces of information are called out for each topic. To do this method, divide your paper into equal columns by category. Use the space below each column header to jot down supportive facts.
Excel with Excellent Notes
At first, notes can look like a bunch of chicken scratch but after spending some time rewriting or organizing the notes, they will prove to be helpful study materials. Have your teen try out some of the note taking methods we mentioned and let us know what they thought by leaving a comment below.
For more tips and tricks head over to our Facebook page, and if you have any questions regarding our program and how we help middle and high school students, visit our website or give us a call at 800-297-2119.
In our everyday life, as adults we have a lot of things to remember and the same rings true for your child. Algorithms. Schedules. Formulas. Vocabulary words. Writing assignments. Upcoming test dates. Dates with friends. The list goes on and on of things that your teen is trying to commit to memory.
Every time we take in something new with our senses, our brain briefly holds onto that information. This short-term “holding tank” is our short-term memory. This “holding tank” is very, very small. In fact, if we don’t do something with that information, it will be forgotten rather quickly. That’s right – in order to move this information over to our long-term memory, we need to DO something with it. There are some proven tricks to help improve your memory and move this information from short-term storage to long-term. These tricks work great for people of all ages, but they will be very beneficial when your student is trying to retain information for an upcoming quiz or test!
Put it to music.
If you think back to your earliest memories, one of the first things you learned was the alphabet. To this day, if you are asked to recite the alphabet, you will most likely sing the ABC song. The easiest way to memorize those 26 letters was to put it to song and look, it stuck with you all these years! Encourage your teen to create their own song, rap, or rhyme with the facts they are learning. They could even put their facts to the tunes of their favorite song or create a new one. Doing a simple internet search of songs for the periodic table will give tons of examples to get your teen started. When material is interacted with in such a creative way, it is sure to become a long-term memory.
Scan, read, recall.
Does your student ever find themselves reading a chapter in a book and then afterwards they have no idea what they just read? It happens to the best of us all the time! Sometimes we aren’t fully present and our mind is wandering in a million different directions. To make sure they are taking in what is being read, first ask them to scan the reading for pictures and headings. These are clues as to what the material will be about. Next, as they begin to read, ask them to stop and recall what it is that they just read. This pattern of scanning, reading, and recalling will help lock the key points into memory. It may sound time-consuming to read this way, but it beats having to read and re-read the text over and over again.
An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation from the initial letters or syllables in a phrase or word. We’re all used to learning with acronyms because they are so effective. Some examples that many people have heard of include:
- HOMES: Used for memorizing the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior)
- ROY G BIV: Used for memorizing the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
- FANBOYS: Used for memorizing conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
The easiest way to make an acronym is to list out what you need to remember and then try to make up a word based on the list you made. Sometimes it takes a moment, but with some creativity, the acronym will be sealed in your long-term memory forever!
Break facts into groups.
It’s impossible to memorize huge groups of information. It’s an overload for your brain and even if you were able to somehow memorize the facts, they would soon be forgotten because it’s not a realistic way to have your brain store the information. Breaking large information down into smaller groups is the way to go! Consider this number: 4398071625. Now consider this number: 439-807-1625. The numbers are the same but when it’s broken down into a phone number format, it’s much easier to remember. Grouping facts by what they have in common is the easiest way to sort information. Whether people sort things by color, size, region, or characteristics is up to them and the material at hand. Just remember to make sure the groups make sense to you and then memorizing what is in the groups will come easier.
Give your brain a rest.
If your teen had a particularly hard study session, have them take a brief cat nap. Research shows that resting your brain helps transfer short-term memories into long-term. So, whether it is a short power nap or a good night’s rest, be sure to let your rest give your brain a boost.
How does your teen prep for a big test? Do they have any tricks to lock key information into memory? Leave us a comment and let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Also feel free to share your memory tricks with the My Virtual Academy community over on our Facebook page.