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learning to study

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    learning to study

    As I urge my 17yo son to study in preparation for his U.S. History I CLEP practice test later this month, he asks an interesting question:

    How is 'studying' different from 'reading' or simply learning?

    Has anyone here found effective ways to teach a struggling student to organize himself and his resources for the task of studying?
    Thanks--
    Cheryl

    #2
    On this topic we have many "views," but no replies so far! I can share a few strategies we have attempted:

    Instruction
    Inspiration
    Incremental Independence

    (repeat)

    Instruction
    First, I have instructed my son with some basic study methods:
    1) Marking the book
    Find and highlight main ideas in the book. Write notes or definitions in margins. Make an arrow in the margin of any bold or italicized words. Understand that this practice is "ok" & not breaking rules (as long as we own the book).

    2) Outlining
    My husband explained his process of creating outlines for his books in law school, and this seemed to impress our son. As though for the first time, our son realized, "Dad must have studied in law school!"

    3) Creating one's own flash cards
    For some reason, this is our son's favorite method of studying. He creates flash cards and places them in individual cases. He loves his collections and enjoys studying the cards he has created. His sister can help him review the cards, and she enjoys "teaching" him in this way too.

    4) Taking notes -- this is his least favorite! Perhaps too much synthesizing, organizing, and pressure to create full sentences. We're still working on this technique.

    Inspiration
    Second, I created a large poster called "Study Skills Basics" & tucked it behind our bookshelves. Every few weeks, I reread the poster to inspire him. It consists of three reminders:

    1) Focus on Academics
    Ignore distractions. Do not create your own distractions (e.g., chatter, comments, jokes). Concentrate on the subject matter. Minimize leisure time with screens (computer, video games) to discipline your mind for grappling with the printed word, an essential component of studying.

    2) Prepare, Organize, Review
    Spend large amounts of time using your favorite study techniques. Study more than facts (grammar). Study analyses of events, causes, themes (dialectic). Be prepared to discuss these eloquently (rhetoric). Organize your notes and materials. Review what you have learned.

    3) Remember the Benefits of Study
    Studying broadly and deeply produces benefits beyond learning the material:
    --A disciplined mind and character
    --Wisdom, not mere knowledge
    --The ability to serve others with a stronger mind and greater understanding

    Incremental Independence
    Initially, I studied with him. For example, after a single paragraph or section, I asked him to tell me the main idea. I modeled highlighting by marking with a yellow highlighter the ideas he identified. Gradually, we increased his independent study time. We used a timer.

    First I set the timer for 45 minutes, then 60, now 2 or 3 hours, depending on the day, and he studies his materials. Without the timer, he often "finished studying" very quickly. With the timer, he simply finds ways to review. We insist that he study where I can see him, not in his room. This helps. We clear the study table of all materials other than US History resources. This helps too.

    Another technique we have found helpful is to find many different ways to teach similar content. For example, Michael is making his own flash cards from an overview-of-US-history textbook, studying the CLEP US History review guide, completing a lower-level US history workbook, reading historical fiction, watching Great Courses DVD's on American History as he exercises on the treadmill, and reading the ISI American History books available from MP.

    With all of this, how is it that he still asks for a clarification or definition of studying?? As many of us know, such is the nature of learning disabilities! Rarely "once learned, always learned," these matters need to be revisited often and reinforced with much instruction, inspiration, and encouragement.

    A good resource for study skills in middle school and high school:
    That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life, by Ana Homayoun

    Looking back, I think my son would better understand the idea of "studying" now, if I would have spent more time modeling intentionally the process I assumed he would know instinctively.

    Does anyone else have suggestions or tips, whether for younger children or older students?

    I am hoping that our Struggling Student Forum, perhaps even more than the Curriculum Forums, can become an arena for sharing of ideas (and not just my own!).

    If you have anything to add on this topic or any other, please do. I know we all can learn much from each other.

    If you know of others who are classically educating their struggling or special-needs children, please invite them to join us here! Memoria Press' consistent emphases on simplicity, delight, depth, and beauty creates perfect resources for our children, with more ideas to come.

    This is an excellent place for us to gather for mutual support.

    Please share additional thoughts and questions as you have time.
    Blessings to you--
    Cheryl

    Comment


      #3
      I really appreciate all the info I get here. my daughters are both still young. my youngest at 2 has a suspected diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. She has the potential to have learning disabilities of some sort. by my understanding, due to not getting language "wired" correctly in early childhood, later processes that are language dependent (reading writing) are vulnerable. she also has some sensory seeking (mostly motor) and some sensory avoidance that has blessedly decreased since infancy but still effects her that would be such a challenge in a traditional setting. I love the ideas that I read somewhere in these boards about letting them bounce on balls while doing their work. I can totally see this working for her when the time comes. I hope that by early treatment we will be able to prevent or minimize her later learning challenges but I'm so happy to know that I have this resource to help her get the best education I can give her. ...

      thank you!

      Comment


        #4
        When ds was enrolled in a Montessori school, every morning they did recitations of various things they were working on. We continued with that when ds came home. We are big on index cards here, so we list various things that we think should be memorized or remembered and put it on an index card. I then laminate it, and it goes on a ring with others. We take about 20 minutes in the morning to go over the cards. We will take cards off for a while, and then put them back on occasionally for review. I have a box I keep the cards in, with tabs for different subjects. I was very happy when MP started offering flash cards for the Famous Men series! That will save me a lot of time.

        I haven't really worked on taking notes with ds, as I don't really lecture. We have more of a read and discuss type of thing going on here, and when it is important, it goes on a card. I plan on starting note taking this year with some dvd curriculum. I think he has a good grasp of what is important in our reading, so I'm hoping that will carry over to listening to lectures. Ds learns quite well by example, so I will most likely take notes right alongside him. When I was in high school I had a habit of looking over my notes every night. I would like to get ds into that habit too. I never had to study for tests when I used that approach.

        Comment


          #5
          We used a basketball for math facts. I think that it added a kind of rhythm that helped make the information stick. He just naturally fell into that rhythm. I don't remember if I got that here, or somewhere else. A trampoline can be helpful too. Some kids do well with some spinning before sitting down to some mental work. We had a sit and spin, but just plain old spinning around works too. Another thing we used to do was put the answers to different facts on sheets of construction paper. I would call out a problem, and he would have to jump onto the answer. I would try to make the correct answers lead to a small prize that was hidden. I miss the younger years!! We were lucky that we had a great therapist who was very supportive of homeschooling. She came up with a lot of fun ideas for his sensory issues, and also great ways to help him learn.


          Originally posted by CelticaDea View Post
          I really appreciate all the info I get here. my daughters are both still young. my youngest at 2 has a suspected diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. She has the potential to have learning disabilities of some sort. by my understanding, due to not getting language "wired" correctly in early childhood, later processes that are language dependent (reading writing) are vulnerable. she also has some sensory seeking (mostly motor) and some sensory avoidance that has blessedly decreased since infancy but still effects her that would be such a challenge in a traditional setting. I love the ideas that I read somewhere in these boards about letting them bounce on balls while doing their work. I can totally see this working for her when the time comes. I hope that by early treatment we will be able to prevent or minimize her later learning challenges but I'm so happy to know that I have this resource to help her get the best education I can give her. ...

          thank you!

          Comment


            #6
            Great ideas here! Thanks.

            Now that my son is older, he reveals some "insider" insight into how motion helps some special-needs children concentrate. These small moments of self-knowledge also assist his own ability to learn.

            He said recently, "When my body is already moving, my mind can focus more easily. If I sit on the couch and watch one of the Teaching Company DVD's on history, I just don't pay attention as much as when I'm walking on the treadmill. It's as though the movement engages my mind."
            Cheryl


            Originally posted by dsmith View Post
            We used a basketball for math facts. I think that it added a kind of rhythm that helped make the information stick. He just naturally fell into that rhythm. I don't remember if I got that here, or somewhere else. A trampoline can be helpful too. Some kids do well with some spinning before sitting down to some mental work. We had a sit and spin, but just plain old spinning around works too. Another thing we used to do was put the answers to different facts on sheets of construction paper. I would call out a problem, and he would have to jump onto the answer. I would try to make the correct answers lead to a small prize that was hidden. I miss the younger years!! We were lucky that we had a great therapist who was very supportive of homeschooling. She came up with a lot of fun ideas for his sensory issues, and also great ways to help him learn.

            Comment

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