Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Study Methods: Work with the Strengths

It’s important to teach your kids how to study—especially if they plan on attending college. One of the goals of a homeschool mother should be to take the high school students to the point of independence. It’s rather pleasant because you’re really working yourself out of a job as they learn how to learn for themselves.

One small part of that is to learn what study methods work best for them. This will often go back to whether they are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. While I think it’s good to make them sometimes stretch and use one of their weaker elements as they learn in order to strengthen it, it's still good to teach them to gear their study method to their strengths.

Here’s a few ideas on how to study with different learning styles.

Visual Learners
  • Use highlighters or colored pencils. This will require careful thought on the student’s part as to what is important enough to highlight. That thought process itself is key to learning and remembering. Some kids will enjoy using different colors for emphasis.

  • Organize the material in lists. This can be anywhere from formal outlines to simple 1,2,3, lists. Some students will remember it better if they’ve written it themselves. 

Auditory learners
  • Use drills. Work with a partner (a.k.a. mother) and have the student answer questions aloud. An auditory learner remembers best if he hears it. 

  • Use a recording device. Your local store will have all kinds of new, hand-held devices that a student can use to record the material he’s studying. He’ll get it once as he records it and again as he listens to it. My nephew used to record lectures in college and listen to them as he drove in his car. 

Kinesthetic learners
  • Arrange material on note cards. The student has to walk across the room to pick up the right answer to questions.

  • Have the student walk, jump rope, or bounce on a mini-trampoline as he either hears or reads the information. 

  • Act out the information. We used to do this even in science. My kids acted out Kepler’s second law of planetary motion. My daughter held a small ball (the planet) as she “orbited” around a larger ball (the sun). She gradually walked faster as she approached the sun  and slowed down as she got farther away. She had to tell about the law as she acted it out. At the end she said, “You mean that’s all Kepler’s second law of planetary motion means?” What seemed complicated on the page, became simple as she acted it out.

As students use study methods that work with their strengths while still at home, they'll discover the best ways to study while in college. 

What other study methods do your children use?

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