No two people are the same. So why do high schools continue to promote the same learning strategies for all students? According to a report published by the Association for Psychological Science, “Parents and teachers want to help students succeed, but there is little guidance on which learning techniques are the most effective for improving educational outcomes.” In fact, “…some commonly used techniques, such as underlining, rereading material, and using mnemonic devices, were found to be of surprisingly low utility.”
Fortunately, there are study methods that will complement your children’s personal learning styles and abilities.
Creating practice tests and studying ahead of time
One of the best ways to retain information is through self-testing. Once your children have successfully completed the assigned reading material, assist them with creating a practice test using the information they have learned. For the best results, create the test one or two weeks before the actual test date, if one is scheduled. Often, instructors will initiate pop quizzes, but if you prepare early, you can alleviate the stress associated with surprise tests.
Divide and conquer
If your child is struggling on one area of the assignment, use it as an opportunity to form a study group. This is a great way to reduce the workload while bringing together a group of students who may have different strengths and weaknesses. Not only will they work together to find a solution, but they can even have fun bonding in the process.
Cramming overnight has been proven to be an ineffective method of studying. That being said, it’s better than no method at all. However, if you can help your children distribute the study material they are responsible for, they will have more time to focus and retain the information. This can be done in the group study sessions we discussed, or encourage one-on-one study sessions of your own, if your schedule permits, with a peer or with you.
If something doesn’t make sense to your child in the way it was explained, encourage him or her to approach the material using self-explanation. Self-explanation is a method that relates the new information to familiar information, or thinking out loud. If your child doesn’t understand a certain question, have your child highlight that information and ask why it’s not clear. Taking the time to work out the problem will ultimately lead to a solution and a better understanding of the material.
The truth is, your child may be distracted and struggle with tests for different reasons. Whether it’s the pressure of an upcoming game against school rivals, the stress of relationships, or academic challenges, finding the right learning strategy can help boost your child’s success in the classroom.