Learn How to Study for Class: 3 General Strategies for Being Proactive

You almost never hear “I have to study for or prepare for class” but the thought or phrase, “I have to study for my exams” is always used by students. But when you really think about it, to study something really means to learn something.

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Many students study for tests/exams trying to learn or re-learn something they didn’t quite understand in the first place. As a result, when test time comes all sort of things come into play that oftentimes impedes upon your child’s ability to perform well such as test amnesia, misreading of test questions, skipping questions by accident, etc. These situations can be avoided if students would understand the benefit of taking a proactive approach and learn how to study (to learn) for class.

Here are three tips you can use to help your child study for class:

1. Encourage your child to preview class material ahead of time. It is common practice for teachers to inform students in the beginning of the week and at the end of each class period of what content will be covered in class. Encourage your child to take of note of this information and organize their time each week to preview class material.

Story note: I always ask my students: “how do you know if you want to see a movie at the theatre?” and they answer, “I watch the preview first to help me decide if I want to go see it.” And I say “That’s right!! Previewing the movie first prepares you for what you are about to see. So use this analogy to prepare yourself for what you are about to learn in class.”

2. While your child is previewing the material, encourage them to write down questions about material they don’t understand. Your child should take these questions to class the next day and get them answered either by listening for answers during class discussion and jotting them down as notes, or ask their teacher directly to help them understand what they tried learning on their own.

3. Encourage your child to take a few minutes (approx 25 minutes) to review what they learned in class in addition to their homework the same day the material was covered. Additionally, have your child review the questions and notes they took in class and use this time as a way of capturing what material was actually understood vs. material that is still a little fuzzy. Putting this tip in to practice will help your child retain information taught as well as help identify early (well before test time) problem areas that still may be challenging. This would be the perfect time to seek help on fuzzy material!

These tips can help your child become excited about learning and more engaged active learners in the classroom because “studying for class” will help your child gain a sense of ownership and responsibility when taking the first steps to learning on their own. Furthermore, this proactive approach to learning material will ultimately result in better preparation and performance on exams.

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