Brain research has clear suggestions for how study skills can best be applied so children can learn more information at a faster pace and in less stressful ways. There are always students who will benefit from these techniques at an early age; they may have a harder time with information recall, or maybe they find it difficult to apply information, need more repetition, or have a diagnosed learning difference. Compare those students who those who seem to learn the material just by sitting in class and listening, almost by osmosis; those children seem to do very little, if anything, as homework. Some adults, and certainly those students who experience few difficulties, ask if they need to learn and use the study and organization skills at an early age, too? The answer, in a word, is YES! And the reason is simple; children who learn and use those study skills at an earlier age have an easier adjustment when work becomes harder and expectations greater in the higher grade levels. And, trust me, everyone will on day reach the level where work and expectations require more than a cursory glance. That’s when having learned this skills at a younger age will come in handy.
- Creating an organized, well-supplied study area at home will remove the unnecessary waste of time to locate pencils, pens, paper, markers, ruler, note cards, and other study supplies.
- Learning to calendar short and long-term assignments will require students to think about how much time is needed to properly complete work. And including extracurricular commitments and special events should always be included on the calendar, so the students will be able to view the big picture, rather than thinking about just one assignment on its own.
- Using a timer to track the amount of time spent accomplishing different tasks will soon create a realistic picture of how much time will be required on a regular basis, and, an additional benefit will be when it starts taking less time to complete those assignments.
- Making study cards and using strategies for immediate recall can be helpful when studying vocabulary, math facts, and foreign language. Success with these strategies will then allow students to be ready for application and analysis of information, skills important for learning at every grade level.
- Organization of binder and school supplies, as well as expectations of personal student responsibility at both home and school, will result in an understanding that school is the student’s “job” with adults only providing support.
- Setting goals of doing one’s best, rather than earning a certain grade or level of accomplishment, will result in a less stressful experience for everyone. Goals should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
While not all of these strategies are essential for a child to be successful in the younger grades, it should be recognized that everyone will eventually meet a task that can not be easily accomplished. Creating a system, at a younger age, will prepare students for the day when greater challenges arise, and these situations can be met with the tools for success already in place.
Prepare now. And have less stress later.
Photograph by Romain Vignes.