As students enter the middle elementary years, schoolwork becomes more difficult, homework becomes more plentiful, and children begin the shift from learning to read to reading to learn.
How can parents help children make this shift? Children need to be taught study skills that will help them maximize their learning throughout their school career.
Approximately 50 percent of material that is taught in class or read from a text is forgotten in a matter of minutes, reports Walter Pauk in “Reading World Journal”. Regular studying helps kids go beyond memorizing material to understanding the material, which aids in long-term retention of the information.
Where to Study?
Children need to be comfortable when doing homework. Some kids work better sprawled on the floor, while others prefer a desk or the kitchen table. The area needs to be free from distractions and interruptions, and contain the necessary tools to complete the task. A basket with dividers can hold pens and pencils, highlighters, post-its, scissors, glue, rulers, a calculator, and crayons or markers so your child can work efficiently without wasting time searching for supplies. Have plenty of lined paper, computer paper, and construction paper handy.
When to Study?
Kids should take 30 minutes after school to unwind and have a snack before hitting the books. Some children who are involved in after-school activities might prefer doing their homework after dinner. Others might prefer the late afternoon. Pick a time that best fits your family’s schedule and stick to it.
How to Study?
Textbooks have a unique structure with many built-in tools to help students learn the information. Make use of the table of contents, index, glossary, maps, and illustrations. An effective teaching method for textbook material is SQ3R, which stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Here’s how it works:
Survey the chapter
Read the title, headings, captions, charts, and illustrations. Read the review questions at the end of the chapter, vocabulary word lists, beginning and ending paragraphs, and the chapter summary. This sets a purpose for the reading.
Have your child ask himself what he already knows about the material. Develop questions that might be contained in the reading. For a science chapter on weather, a question might be “How fast do hurricane winds blow?” or “What are the different types of clouds?”
Read only a section at a time and check for understanding. Make sure that your child comprehends the material before going on. Check the unit review questions to see if the reading passage answers any of them.
Ask your child to state what she’s just read in her own words. Underline, highlight, or write down important points.
Reread portions of the text if necessary to help with understanding.
Who can help with studying?
Parents can help children break down long range assignments like science fair projects and research papers into small steps that can be completed early. Look over homework before it’s handed in and encourage quality work.
Check your child’s assignment book for homework and review graded assignments when they are returned to discover your child’s areas of strength as well as to identify areas of difficulty.
Older siblings can help teach younger children concepts they have mastered, which in turn, helps reinforce the concepts for them as they instruct others.
What do we do with all these papers?
Have your child organize papers in pocket folders for each subject. Use the left pocket for work in progress, active notes, and study guides for upcoming tests. Use the right pocket for completed and graded work. Hold on to all work until the quarter or semester is over and grades have been received.
Helping your child develop good study habits will also help them develop the skills of active reading, reflection, time management, and organization that will serve them well throughout their lives.