By: Lauren Perrodin
Studying is a basic component of going to school. But, learning differences can make “doing well” in classes more difficult for some students.
You could teach your students study skills tailored to their learning styles that they could carry with them for the rest of their academic careers. Test-taking and learning will never be the same for these students, and it could change the way they feel about academics in general — cultivating lifelong learners.
Let’s explore some study concepts you could bring to the start of your school year.
Study Skills, Methods, and Check-Ins for Your Students
Every learner is a little different. They may come from a multigenerational home where something is always going on, or they may be an only child. This is why establishing patterns for studying can help put their minds in the right place to absorb new information — instead of just memorizing facts and figures.
We’ve broken down studying into skills your kids can develop, methods of learning material and a small quiz to reveal the type of studier your students really are.
Studying isn’t just about sitting down the night before a test and memorizing — it’s building best practices and habits along the way that helps them absorb the material. These study skills can help students shift their focus from after-school activities, catching up with family and being socially active to a studying mind-frame that could set their brain into learning mode again.
Picking a place to study is a great place to start. For some, the environment means a lot in managing distractions and focusing on study and homework time. Think of how you feel when you step into your bedroom after a long day of work, and how immediately you feel more relaxed and ready for bed. This could be true for a study area for your students as well.
Music, smells, sounds and physical space all can help a student improve their learning. But, this may vary depending on the grade level. For example, elementary school students will likely need help with their homework, so the kitchen table is the best place to establish a study area. However, homework and study time become more independent as they get older, so establishing a dedicated study room may be necessary.
What’s more, does the space in which they’re studying have everything they need? Once a student is set into study mode, it’s important to make sure they can stay there without distractions. Be sure to let parents know to stock their study area with pencils, erasers, calculators, paper and light so they can get the most out of the room.
Prioritization will be the next step in developing good study skills. How well do your students know how to manage their time and prioritize tasks? Working off of a daily planner, encourage your students to write down each assignment required by the next school day. When they get home, kids can go through each project based on time sensitivity, how long a piece of work will take to complete, and how long a student can focus on a single task.
For example, a middle school student may have a math worksheet, a book report for social studies, to read for English and vocab to learn for a test at the end of the week. Teach your students how to prioritize their assignments so they’re not pushing anything back to the next day.
Taking breaks could be a necessary aspect of your students’ study skills. Most people can commit to 30 minutes of focused work until they need a break. Encourage families to set timers as soon as students sit down to study, so that when the timer is up, the student can take a five-minute break.
Before diving into studying methods, students need to explore the learning style that best suits them. While someone may connect with two or more aspects, there are four methods: visual, auditory, writing and hands-on. Education Planner has an excellent 20-question quiz that students can take to help uncover which style best suits them.
Here are a few ideas for study methods students can use for different subjects:
- Writing a study guide helps students find the main ideas of a particular topic and can then fill in supporting information to understand the full story better.
- Pulling out the main ideas of a section can help students grasp broader concepts of subjects like social studies or literature.
- Retrieval Practice is a fun activity you can do in your classrooms that can reveal how much of a subject a student knows — this could be perfect for a pre-test task to help them prepare for an upcoming exam.
- Making the information meaningful means asking students to look over a piece of content and to teach someone else about it in their own words; if they’re unable to do so, they need to read more closely until they fully understand.
- Organizing the information into categories can help students who feel overwhelmed with the material that is before them. Have them put each topic, word or concept into categories to make it more digestible.
- Visualization is a study method that puts concepts into pictures. For some, reading and copying things down isn’t enough; they need the subject to be personified to grasp the meaning fully.
- Associating information, such as rhyming or connecting words to other well-known words can help fully flesh out a word or concept for students.
Study Skills Checklist
At the end of the day, it’s up to the student to navigate how best to study. But, facilitating more open conversations about learning new material and study styles can help move the train along outside of the classroom.
One final tip is to pass out a study skills checklist to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses when they sit down to study.