One of the most important elements to being a successful student is honing your studying skills. Learning how to study SMARTER, and not HARDER is the key to absorbing information and performing well on assessments. Let’s explore some study resources with these tips and tools to help you and the students in your family increase confidence in learning!
Getting started is always the hard part
I’ll be real here. I was an OK student—most of the time. Some of the time, I was just coasting. Other times, I struggled to get much of anything done. I did not have strong planning skills, time management or study resources. Procrastination was often my sidekick and the devil on my shoulder. Often, I would see classmates seemingly getting it all done with ease and I would wonder, “How? Why can’t I get this done? What aren’t I getting?” It could be incredibly frustrating.
I realize now that those students were the exception and not the norm. Knowing that takes some of the pressure off. Now, as an educator, I see students doing exactly the same as I did and having the same feelings of self-doubt. The truth is, everyone has their strengths and everyone can be a successful student. These study resources will help put the right tools in your academic toolbox.
Make planning a priority for your study resources
We’ve talked a lot about how to organize, plan and manage time. It never hurts to say it again. PLAN. View your time in bite-sized chunks and think about the week ahead. One of the best study resources is to create a schedule as a foundation for your work and responsibilities. This allows you to stay on task and also to build in time for the unexpected such as illness, car trouble and meetings that pop up.
I like to designate one day a week, typically Sunday as my planning day. This way, I can look at my lessons, my meetings/ duties and my family calendar. Using a daily planner, I block out designated time for myself to write and practice sight words with my first grader. I also leave Sunday as my “work-free day” so I have a built in break and devoted time for myself and my family.
For students, it helps to similarly devote specific times to study, review notes and complete assignments our of school hours. This is especially important when students have other responsibilities to juggle: after school jobs, sports practice/ games and even in some cases, the travel time to and from school. Planning is the foundation of good study skills.
Laying the groundwork
Effective note-taking is a layered challenge. My notes typically look like chicken scratch and often times don’t fully reflect what was taught or might have gaps in the content covered. It makes my head hurt to think about the time I wasted in the past deciphering my notes, organizing the information and putting it all together into beneficial study tools. How can you turn your notes into the best of your available study resources? Let’s start with some general Note- Taking Tips and transition into some specifics on note-taking itself.
Note-taking is itself a valuable skill to master. There are studies that explore the best and most effective note-taking methods such as The Cornell Method. Cornell Professor Walter Pauk developed this system in the 1940s. This method remains popular among many teachers and educators and is just as great for students. The system is simple and involves dividing a note sheet into 3 sections: The cue/ question section, the note-taking section and the summary section. The organization of the format allows for better retention and understanding of information.
In addition to the Cornell Method, you could try these documents for guided note-taking as well.
- Two Column Note Template: The organization here is to help with classes where you might be struggling with content or concepts. The formatting is separated into two columns; one for information that is clear to you and the second for information that is unclear or difficult for you to understand in the moment. Later, when you go to review your notes, you’ll able to organize your thoughts into what you already know and what you most need to review.
- Guided Note Template: This template is formatted similarly to the Cornell Method. You have 3 categories to organize yourself during a lesson; Vocabulary/ Key Concepts, General Notes and Summary. This template is great for classes where you’re covering new terminology and vocab while leaving space to wrap up your thoughts and ideas for review later during your study time.
Leave time for yourself
We spend a lot of time planning and prepping, working and hustling. I know how hard it is to keep it all straight. I currently have a tiny human grumbling for my attention as I finish these final thoughts. That being said, I can make a case for self-care being a legitimate study resource. It is essential that we don’t burn the candle at both ends. Remember to build in time for yourself and your family to rest and recharge. Revisit the daily planner here and above. Be sure to build in time daily and weekly to take a break. It could be a little break for a snack or a big break to visit the pumpkin farm with the family. Whatever it is you choose, make sure it fills your bucket. What are your favorite ways to take a break and recharge? Tell us in the comments!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.