Learning to Learn

One of the most important lessons that a child can learn is HOW to learn. Unfortunately, that is a subject not usually consigned to a particular grade or subject. Consequently, many students do not receive the study skills that can enhance not only their acquisition of knowledge but also their self-confidence.

One of the major differences between mediocre academic performance and stellar accomplishment is the ability to organize information appropriately. The more a student employs a study strategy, the more proficient he will become at it. Children who learn how to study early are able to apply and enhance their study skills as they progress through school when the material becomes more challenging.

While many variations on this topic exist, one easy method to present and practice at virtually any grade level is SQ3R. At first, the introduction to this method may seem to take some additional homework time. However, the benefits are certainly worthwhile. In fact, students who use the method consistently usually find that they spend considerably less time studying for tests, as they have already assimilated the information during daily review.

S is for “survey.” The first step when sitting down to do an assignment is to understand it. Therefore, he should take a few moments to scan the material. If the assignment is on a worksheet, he should read the directions and simply look over the material. If it’s in a text or workbook, he should look through the pages. How many pages does he need to read? How is the material presented? The student should pay special attention to bold-faced or italicized words, diagrams, and pictures. Chapter headings help categorize and organize the information. He should look for questions at the end of the chapter.

Q is for “question.” The next thing he should do is ask questions about what he is doing. Perhaps the most important question involves the purpose for doing the assignment. What does he want to learn? What is the main idea of this assignment? Why is this material important? How does it relate to previous assignments?

R is for “read.” Once the student has determined the reason for the assignment, he is actually ready to do it. He should complete the questions if it’s a written assignment, or read the selection in detail. How long he takes certainly depends on the subject, the individual, and the complexity of the assignment. Reading a textbook is very different from reading a novel or other leisure time reading. It is reading for meaning, and it should involve the student as an active participant. He should write down unfamiliar words and concepts, jot down notes, and identify concepts that he would like the teacher to expand upon or explain the next day.

R is for “recite.” After completing the assignment, the student should recite the major points to himself. He should understand what he learned or practiced from this worksheet or chapter. He should also be able to answer the questions that he has posed earlier. In other words, he can identify the meaning of the assignment.

R is for “review.” Now is the time for the student to review what he has learned in this lesson and tie it into previous lessons. In addition, reviewing assignments and notes from previous days reinforces ideas and helps the student to retain information. Therefore, he can work more productively, remember concepts, avoid cramming, and enjoy the benefits of an organized study plan.

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