Dr. Jenny Klipp
There are many myths and misconceptions about study skills, especially as they relate to elementary students. It is unfortunate that formal study skill training is often delayed until middle and high school, when actually it is during the early elementary years when soft academic skills, such as concentration, organization and strategic thinking, are developed. Without careful direction, students often associate successful studying with the amount of time they spend with their notes or textbooks. Strategies such as mindlessly reading notes, skimming text and reviewing memorized pre-tests take the place of helpful skills and often erroneously lead students to believe they just aren't good test-takers.
As administrators, teachers and parents, we can help our students learn about their own cognitive processes and how to use them to best learn and study. Below are several practical tips to help develop skills that will benefit our students now and in the future:
Determine the student’s learning style
- Visual learners: These students learn by seeing--they benefit from highlighting, underlining, color-coding, drawing, recopying notes and using flashcards.
- Auditory learners: These students learn by hearing. Helpful strategies for these learners include reading text and notes aloud; putting facts to music or rhymes; studying with others; and listening to recordings of spelling words, math facts and other memorization assignments.
- Kinesthetic learners: These students are hands-on learners--they need objects. They benefit from using items such as globes, puzzles, maps, play dough and drawing boards (even shaving cream!). They often remember more when they study while doing something active, such as rocking in a chair, walking or swinging.
Develop routines. Set a time and place for daily homework time. This could be a dining room table or an office desk, but it should be a place with minimal distraction and good lighting and where the student can easily be supervised. Choosing a high concentration time is vital. If the student is hungry, tired or wondering what other activities he is missing, study time will be ineffective. A nutritious snack and some water are a great way to get the brain cells working. Using timers and checking progress help offer accountability, and packing the backpack the night before is a great way to avoid the pressure of forgetting books or homework in the morning rush.
Set goals. Set high long-term goals that are workable and attainable, but aim for short-term successes. When a child studies efficiently and effectively and achieves a positive result, encouragement and recognition is in order. It is important that students see the reward of correct study strategies. A simple note of affirmation or a special privilege can go a long way.
Deuteronomy 26 speaks of the Israelites bringing their first fruits, or their best, to the Lord. They have provided an example for us, and together we can give students the tools they need not only to be successful in school but to bring honor and glory to the Lord by giving Him their very best.