Does Your Child Have Trouble With Tests? Help Them Study Smarter!

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In classrooms across America, teachers strive to provide engaging lessons and meaningful homework, but more often than not, our students are not learning how to learn.

Kids walk out of their classrooms armed with study guides, notes, and chapters to read, but they don’t know how to put that information into storage for retrieval tomorrow, next week, or three months from now. Here are four easy ways to help your child study smarter:

Reading Is NOT Studying

Many students are under the impression that if they read the chapter, they’ve studied.  The truth is that studying is a full-contact sport.  In order to truly study, students can’t just be spectators, but they need to get involved.  Instead of merely reading information that may be on their test, they will retain far more when they highlight the main concepts, jot down notes in the margins, make their own study guides, and quiz themselves.

Make Them The Teacher

Some parents like to help their children study using good old fashioned flashcards.  Although there’s nothing wrong with using flashcards, students will retain far more information when they hold the cards.  Part of the reason this works is because the student is reviewing and teaching the parent at the same time. 

Use Acronyms

Another easy way of help students retain information is to use acronyms.  For example, one common memory aide is HOMES, which is an acronym for the Great Lakes – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. This strategy is flexible; it can be used with virtually any type of rote memorization. Once students are shown how to use this technique, they come up with all kinds of catchy acronyms to make retention easier.

Break It Down

And finally, breaking down study time over a few days is far better and a lot less stressful than studying the night before.  When your child has an upcoming test, help him break the study time into increments.  Have him write these simple tasks in his planner or on your family calendar.  For example, if there’s a science test on Friday, he may jot down “practice flashcards” on Wednesday and “review study guide” on Thursday. 

It’s never too soon to start teaching these valuable skills. The earlier children learn how to study the better. As they move up to higher grades and are given more challenging work, these skills will become even more useful and help them to have a deeper understanding of the material, increase their confidence, and get better grades. 

Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring and Test Prep in Fairfax, VA and Bethesda, MD. In her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions to Stress-Free Homework , Dolin offers proven solutions to help the six key types of students who struggle with homework. Numerous examples and easy-to-implement, fun tips will help make learning less of a chore for the whole family. Learn more at anndolin.com or ectutoring.com.

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