The School environment provides opportunity for the students to learn under the guidance of the teachers. It is important that the students become independent learners, which help in applying learnt skills as well as prepare themselves for the examinations. Learning becomes meaningful only when the students use what is learnt effectively and contextually. Students need to have appropriate independent study skills for mastering school subjects.
Study skills refer to the methods or strategies a student adopts to learn the content of his course material effectively and independently and reproduce contextually. All of us have different study habits. Success of the student is largely dependent on the study habits one adopts.
Many potentially good students may be poor in these study skills, which tend to reflect poorly in their academic performance. Therefore every child should be trained to develop good study skills at any early stage of schooling i.e in primary classes and should be reinforced as he progresses through classes.
As the children grow they often need more guidance than they get in the classroom. In middle school, owing to more homework, it becomes more difficult and it requires analytical skills, which the child may not have developed yet. Parents should always cross check at all the learning stages of their children for these abilities and should encourage them to take responsibility for their own school work.
Good study skills involves
- Listening to what is being taught,
- Taking notes,
- Storing in memory the subject matter,
- Systematic organization of the learnt subject matter
- Responding correctly when asked to answer questions in the subject-orally or in writing.
Do you Know?
Research says that children’s knowledge of learning strategies, and the language of learning, will develop as they experience choice, make decisions and talk about their activities with adults and other children. Therefore in the home environment adults should provide good models of strategic language and behaviour, and use appropriate language and actions in all situations.
The following factors are very important in developing good study skills
- Readiness to learn
- Learning environment
- Individual learning style
- Material to be learnt
Motivation: If the child feels a need to learn, he will be motivated. One should provide right direction and suitable reward for the good performance of the child (however small it may be) to increase motivation.
Readiness: The child has the ability to comprehend the content to his/her class level is utmost important to develop study habits. A child in class IV having basic computation skills in class II will never be ready to learn the math content from his/her class. Then any amount math tuitions and extra hours of practice in class room will be ineffective. As the child’s readiness being at class II, teaching has to be at that level, which should be supportedwith effective study skills.
Learning environment: A learning environment should have minimum distractions with good light and ventilation along with good seating arrangement. Studying while TV is on, lying on the bed and with an open window view should be avoided to strengthen the good study habits.
Individual learning style : Every child will have specific way of learning from the very early ages of schooling. Some like to read aloud while some may like to write down while reading. For some studying late night would be more preferred then studying in the early morning. The natural style should not be reversed or stopped to plan for good strategy for studying.
Learning Material: The material varies based on the subject choice at that time of study. To begin with one should choose the study material /subject of interest followed by other subjects which need much workout to learn.
Whatever may the study material when, where, and for how long to study has to be first sketched out keeping all the above mentioned factors.
Few techniques for developing effective study skills:
This technique involves five sequential steps :
Self monitoring: In this the student is trained to generate his own questions for the given topic. Such as…..
- Why am I reading this?
- What is the main idea (Underline/write)?
- What question can I ask for the main idea?
- What will be the answer?
- Is it relevant and meaningful?
Common memory strategies are
- Rehearsing by repeating the content to one self
- Classifying, grouping and clustering information for easy recall
- Creating visual images of the content
- Associating or developing acronyms or pairing with other information
- Self questioning, responding and checking for accuracy of information
- Concept mapping
- Using mnemonics
Helping Your Child with Organization and Study Skills
Parents can help their children with the following organizing strategies to develop the study skills.
Working notebook /Class work Book :
The working notebook is the daily notebook your child takes to class. It holds all the papers and information needed each day. Carrying a note book, completing class works regularly is the primary task of the student which should be monitored by the parent at regular intervals.
The reference notebook is a smaller three-ring binder or a section at the back of the working notebook. The reference notebook is an individualized collection of resources; it reflects your child’s specific needs. It should contain handouts and lists of information your child needs to reference quickly in class. Some items to include follow:
- A personal spelling list of commonly used words that are particularly difficult for your child
- A list of transition words and phrases that will improve the quality of your child’s writing assignments (e.g., words such as however, for example, finally, therefore, in conclusion, another, first, second, etc.)
- Math facts
- Charts or graphs given in class (such as a time line of events for social studies or a periodic table for science)
- How-to lists (such as how to answer and essay question, how to organize your notebook) and templates (such as formats for science experiments)
- Place items for the reference notebook in plastic sheet protectors with three-ring holes so they will last longer (these are available in most stationary or office supply stores).
Organizing homework, study space and time
To help your child organize homework, you can create a homework checklist with the following items for each subject:
- _____I have the materials I need to do the assignment (book, notes, handouts).
- _____I completed the assignment.
- _____I checked the assignment to be sure it was correct.
- _____There was no homework in this subject tonight.
Let your child select and identify a study space to complete his /her school works along with the things (dictionary, pencils, paper, ruler, and calculator) necessary to sit and study. Establishing a routine to complete home work also a crucial factor for your child to develop good study skills.
- Help your child develop a system to keep track of important papers.
- Encourage your child to estimate how long each assignment will take.
- Help your child break big projects into smaller ones.
Communicating with teachers
Establish communication with your child’s teachers as soon as possible – preferably before the first day of school – and maintain it throughout the year.
Reading and listening for main ideas
Listen and read for meaning
Distinguish relevant information from irrelevant information
Organize details for easy sorting, prioritizing, and studying
In identifying main ideas, the most basic task is to identify the category that applies to a list of words. For example, fruit is the main idea for a list that includes apple, pear, peach, and banana. Finding the main idea for a list of words that are abstract (e.g., lonesome, discouraged, grim, brooding, and sorrowful: main idea is “sad feelings” or “negative emotions”) is more difficult than a list of concrete objects (such as the fruit).
Main ideas in paragraphs: The topic sentence
Once students can categorize, the next skill to develop is recognizing and formulating the main ideas of individual paragraphs. This is a basic skill in reading for meaning. Many paragraphs begin with a topic sentence that states the paragraph’s main idea. The rest of the paragraph usually conveys details that support the main idea.
Helpful hints for locating main ideas
- To identify a main idea that is stated, your child should first answer the questions below.
- What is the one subject the author talks about throughout the paragraph? The answer to this question identifies the topic.
- What is the author saying about this topic? The answer to this question identifies the main idea.
- What details support the main idea? The answer to this question identifies the important details.
Do you Know?
Your ‘Media Multitasker’ A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation referred to today’s children as “media multi taskers,” who send instant messages, talk on the phone and listen to music at the same time while doing homework.
But despite what the child may tell us, this could well hinder learning, according to brain research by a UCLA psychology professor. Dr. Russell Poldrack found that multi taskers learn but they do it differently and cannot retrieve the information as effectively.
- Next, your child should find and underline the topic sentence that states the main idea. If the main idea must be inferred because there is no topic sentence, your child should write out the main idea in his own words in the margin next to the paragraph.
- When looking for the topic, your child should look for the words that are most often repeated. They help suggest the topic.
- Your child should make sure all the details refer to the topic sentence (or his main idea in the margin if there is no stated topic sentence).
- Your child can double-check the main idea by asking if what they have underlined or written is too general or specific.
While helping your child read and listen for main ideas, as well as take notes, is challenging and time-consuming, it can help make a difference in your child’s success in school. You won’t always have all the answers. It’s your committed, consistent effort that counts.
Test Taking Skills:
Ultimate academic achievement of the student is reflected in his test scores. Test taking skills, therefore, is a very important component of study skills. The various aspects of test taking skills include
- Time management,
- Style of presentation
- content accuracy
Some tips for students:
- Read the entire question paper.
- Note the time allotted.
- Note the weightage for each specific question.
- Read the directions very carefully.
- Look for the key words in the questions.
- Read and re read the directions and questions completely.
- Allot time to each question based on the marks to the question so that one will have enough time to answer all the questions.
- Answer the well known questions first.
- Remember to write the question number in the margin.
- On completion, review carefully-check for question numbers, spelling or grammar errors, compliance with instructions and neatness.
- If the question paper has objective part and essay, do the objective part forest as many a time it gives clue to easy questions.
- Wherever possible. illustrations, graphical expressions and maps must be done neatly and labelled
- At home practice answering a number of questions with in prescribed time to perform well on the day of examination.
- Review the previous test papers with the help of subject teacher/parent. Analyze the errors and avoid these for next exam.
Do you Know?
Having sleepless nights prior to examinations is really not helpful in learning and retention. Research studies show that for good memory and efficiency adequate sleep is essential along with daily physical activities (Play time, Gym, Exercises, Yoga etc).