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Jackie

Study skills?

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I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for here, but I’m hoping if I ramble then someone might be able to make sense of it.

DD, age 9, is taking Clover Creek Physics this year. She’s a month in; the material seems at about the right level for her - not beyond her, but not all stuff she already knows. There’s been a couple things crop up that make me realize we need to work on some study-related skills. Problem is, I never learned study skills myself, so I don’t even know where to start.

Some background: We are not unschoolers, but heavily child-led. It is rare that I require something in DD’s schooling. She’s naturally curious and excited about learning, so it’s not really been necessary for me to direct. She’s advanced across the board, except maybe in writing. (She can write very well when she decides to, but rarely wants to write anything so she’s produced very little output to judge by.) Previous outsourced classes have been through places like Athena’s, where required output is low and there are no grades. She did one class through AOPS, but the work was easy for her and she sailed through with minimal effort.

The circumstances where I’ve seen issues: She is allowed to take quizzes twice, and they are open book. The first quiz she did very well on the first time. The second quiz, she did not do well on the first time. I asked if she was going to retake it and she wasn’t sure. Decided she would, and sat down to retake it without doing any studying or looking over anything. I suggested she look over her book or homework first, so she grabbed the book and sat down with it for about five minutes. Then retook the quiz before I realized what she was doing, and got nearly the exact same score as the first time.

Today, she checked her answers on a chapter review. Said something like, “not bad, I got 16 out of 23 correct” and was going to move on. I asked if she had looked over the problems she missed and she hadn’t. She looked for a moment, said “I get it now” and was going to move on. I pointed out that it’s easy to think that something is understood, but sometimes harder if one actually works the problems. So she did rework at least a couple problems, got the right answer, and moved on.

She does not take notes during the class, though she does participate in class discussion and offer answers when questions are asked.

As I type and think about her general reactions and schooling, she is very used to doing things to whatever level she wants so that she can understand something, but has never been graded on anything before, and only very rarely been asked to prove knowledge. She definitely isn’t motivated by grades, though she is happy when she received good grades on her lab reports. Her EF skills are not awesome, but probably within typical range for a 9 year old. (So definitely not what I’d expect for a typical kid taking a high school class, but asynchrony, you know?) She does have ADHD, currently well managed with medication. She does the work for the class independently, with me simply reminding her that it is time to work on the physics or asking where she is for the week.

To be clear, she’s not doing badly in the class. Looking at her grades, she is making a B right now. And I’m not too fussed about what grade she makes in the class, honestly. But I *would* like to use this class as a way to work on study skills, class organization skills, time management skills, understanding for herself when she really understands something and when she needs to keep working at it, all that stuff that will continue to apply for classes now and in the future. Again, I don’t know how to teach this stuff. Some of it I do naturally and have never needed to teach, and some of it I never learned myself. Are there resources for teaching these things?

ETA: I’m guessing I’m not the first person to ask such things, so if there’s a thread I should be aware of, please let me know. Searching “study skills” was too vague to help.

Edited by Jackie

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I'll be watching this thread. I was thinking of starting a similar thread about grade 8 DS, as I'm about at my wits end with him. AoPS is about the only thing he'll do at least semi-properly. I have no idea how to convince him to get his act together, so I'll just read the advice, as I don't think I have any useful advice to give (other than maybe address it earlier rather than later).

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2 hours ago, Jackie said:

I pointed out that it’s easy to think that something is understood, but sometimes harder if one actually works the problems. So she did rework at least a couple problems, got the right answer, and moved on.

She does not take notes during the class, though she does participate in class discussion and offer answers when questions are asked.

You could set up expectations before she starts a new outside class. For e.g. you could talk to her that in classes that she takes online (like physics), you require her to go through all her quizzes and rework ALL the problems that were wrong. This is a normal requirement in many middle schools and I think that the child develops more awareness on what they are doing wrong in a test setting when they do this and perhaps even realize that they understood some concept wrong or forgot some steps. Another expectation to set: is to tell her that after attending each session, she should have at least 4-5 main points of the class written down in her notebook. She could use the time after the class to recall what the salient points of the lesson were and write down some brief bullet point style notes. It is also a good habit to review her own notes (however brief they might be) on the day before she takes a test (like a brief test prep). If she is super advanced, she might never need to do all these steps now because her memory and her intellect will pull her through all the material easily. But, these are essential good habits that will have to kick in when the content becomes harder and more advanced in her future and these are easy to implement now without causing too much extra training or stress.

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9 hours ago, Jackie said:

ETA: I’m guessing I’m not the first person to ask such things, so if there’s a thread I should be aware of, please let me know. Searching “study skills” was too vague to help.

 

It is more focused on helping older students, but my thread "Explicitly teaching executive function skills" is pinned to the top of the General Education board.

Ruth in NZ

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My ds is 9 and we're in the middle of this ourselves.  He has mostly picked it up naturally, though, so let me see if I can break down what I'm actually teaching him in the way of studying.
I give him at least one class each year he has to work harder at.  I mean, it's a class he will not keep up with unless he studies.  It is ranged from taking an adult class at a university to being with a group of teens for music, but making him the youngest and least skilled in the room has made him want to work harder because he doesn't want to stand out.  Just a little harder isn't enough.  This year it's actually sports - he has two years experience vs. the 6 years of his teammates, and it's showing right now.
We set aside a time together each day for me to actively teach him *how* to study.  Last year I introduced him to Quizlet for flashcards in one subject and together we set up a music chart that broke down 6 different things to work on during his daily practice.
This year we're working on learning how to do outlines.  He began the skill last year: pulling out the topic sentence, finding support for it, and making sure the 5 questions are answered.  It's one day a week, that's all.  But I've also started him on a personal calendar where he can see his upcoming tests and whatnot and I teach him how to work backward from that end date.  "If you have a test on Friday, what's the best use of your time on Thursday?  What about Wednesday?  Let's set up your week so you have a plan to be successful."

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I think for some things you are mentioning, you do learn from experience and from getting feedback.  She is already doing this class independently so that means she already is doing a lot of good study skills and time management.  She is staying on task and she is making sure she understands as she goes, to the extent she’s getting a B.

For me — this is something I worried more about with my oldest when he was in middle school.  

If I thought he skimmed over and didn’t study/review enough, I could have a choice.  I could say “I don’t agree, you need to study/review more.”  Or if I thought he only looked over or (this is what he would do) he watched the teacher work a math problem he missed and he watched it and thought he understood, but he didn’t copy it down and do the problem himself as the teacher went over it, or then review that later or try to work a similar problem later..... he just watched the teacher work a problem on the board and thought “I’ve got it, I’m good,” ————— then in his case, it would show up that he wasn’t good.  

But for me personally, if feedback is showing that looking at a mistake and going “okay, I get it now” is enough — then it is enough.  

If that’s really enough for her — this might not be the class where she realizes “I can’t just look at it.”  Or where you can say “obviously this isn’t working, as evidenced by this feedback.”  

For my oldest I was very frustrated with things like this when he was in 7th grade, and he did learn from getting some bad grades where he thought he was more prepared.

Then ime for him, the key is to relate that to *study* and not just “I guess I’m bad at this.”  

I think for me, I have needed to think about what I am going to require, and what I am going to allow to be a learning experience.  

If she is studying shallowly to the point she will get lost, you can prevent it, or you can let her get lost and realize she hadn’t been doing enough.  Except it doesn’t need to be that “all or nothing.”  But that’s a way I think about it.  I want a mix of self-discovery and making realizations, but also not getting too lost.  

There’s also other ways you can look for feedback — you can do things like ask her to explain a concept to you.  If she can, that is pretty good proof.  

I have said things like “I’m concerned about your understanding of x, can you put my mind at ease?” If he can give an explanation to me then it does put my mind at rest.  If he doesn’t want to, maybe he can put my mind at rest another way.  Or, maybe I am being too picky and can leave him alone.  

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What I mean is — if she looked at the missed problems and said “I get it now,” you could say “what is it you get now, can you tell me?” And maybe that is good enough 🙂

And if later it turns out it wasn’t good enough — then that’s feedback more practice is needed in this subject.  

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I do think for me too, I expect in middle school that I am setting expectations like — go over missed problems to see why you missed them.  That never “just happened” here.  

But then I think that habit has built and also he has seen that it has helped him, and then I think he does this on his own now.

I don’t think he self-quizzes himself as I would prefer when he studies, I think he does just look over things.  But he can get feedback within classes (like from quizzes) that his understanding is shallow, and see that as a sign to study.  

Right now (9th grade) he still has quizzes so he has those moments given to him — to see if he understands or not — so he can see he needs to study more before a test.  That is still how classes are set up for him in 9th grade, so I don’t think he’s yet expected to make all those realizations himself within his study process, without the feedback of a quiz or a discussion of some kind, where he sees “oh, I don’t know it as well as I thought.”

So — I think it’s a long process.  

But for something constructive to say — it sounds like it would be appropriate for you to check in with her about her chapter reviews and communicate your expectations.  Which it sounds like you are doing 🙂. So I think you ARE doing it 🙂

But some things I think can’t be prevented as much as — kids have learning experiences and learn from them.  

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I also talk about the teacher’s purpose and method.

For a lot of things — they either want to see where their students are to inform their instruction.

Or they want to give students a chance to have distributed practice and call information to mind (which are supposed to help in learning and remembering).

Or they are giving students an opportunity to see how they are doing at remembering and understanding some things, so they can see a need to study or ask a question.  

So then it’s not just — the purpose is to write down a grade and move on, or whatever.  

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SQ3R is the method that will help her digest her book more completely.

With class, at the session conclusion you could start with having her summarize verbally and then in writing what points were made, as well as the evidence to support those points.

Edited by HeighHo

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I have my kids work to mastery.  So everything that is wrong has to be corrected.  I treat a 9 yr old, regardless of their level of work, as a 9 yr old.  I am pretty much at their elbow while they make corrections so that I can "see" what they are thinking as they go through corrections (are they careless errors or do they lack actual understanding.) If they are making a lot of careless errors, I make them sit near me while they are completing their work.  That way I can see if they are simply not paying attention (doing the work but daydreaming in the process) or if they are working too fast to produce quality outcomes. If I am near them, I can redirect their focus or point out that there is no way that could have possibly worked through the problem carefully, etc.

I don't test my kids, so they don't "study" at 9.  But I expect them to master things as we go along so if a test is incorporated, it shouldn't be anything more than  a summary lesson that they are able to complete without issue.  

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That makes sense to me because I do think — I think what you are wanting, is what I was wanting for my 7th/8th grader and I saw improvement in 8th (a lot) and then now (9th) I think he is meeting expectations, but there are built-in supports that won’t be there when he is in college.

So I think it makes sense to be more hands-on because of her age, even if the class she is in might be designed around expectations more like I have for my older son.  

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Thank you for the responses. I am reading along, even if I haven’t been responding, and contemplating how to adapt what we do. 

I can definitely start with modeling some organizational skills, because that is a strength of mine. Yesterday, while she was in her nature class, I took the time to lay out her to do list for this week’s class work in three different formats, so she would be able to see each one. Her brain works a lot differently than mine as to what organization makes sense, so I wanted her to be able to actually see multiple options to find which would make the most sense to her. 

Something HomeAgain said resonated with me, which is that her son has one subject per year that he won’t keep up with unless he studies/works hard. I’m not sure DD has ever had that. She’s had a couple things that she won’t keep up with unless she puts in the required time. But work hard at it? Not really. She sets her own goals, and even the ones that seem like a big stretch to me haven’t ended up being a stretch for her.

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I found that actually having my son take a study skills class over the summer has helped a great deal. It worked a lot better for him to be working on it amd discussinh challenges with other students rather than strictly me telling him this is how you should approach x,y,z. I would suggest that you consider WTMA's study skills course which they do offer during the fall, spring and summer. I had looked at that one which is aimed at 5th grade and up I believe. It's not viewable right now on the website since they aren't enrolling anymore for the fall. I opted for the Schole Academy one instead which probably wouldn't work for you as it is taught from a Christian perspective. Even then, every fall there is a big step up in what he needs to do in order to be successful at whatever it is that he really wanted to do.

This is why Athena and OG3 classes were a much better fit and continue to be so when he was younger. I actually found that the physics course at Athena's worked much better for us beecause there wasn't grading  I am careful to manage every year which classes he did with that high of a level of output. I have pretty clear convos with him that IF he chose to this particular class what the class expectations are before we signed up so that he could decide if that was something he would commit to. I would not sign him up for a class without that being that agreed upon expectation because when there are going to be times when he won't want to do it (especially in September) and I have to remind him about the importance of follow through and putting in your best effort. Those are specific to how our family works since that we emphasize especially in outside classes that the student to teacher retationship as two ways in terms of effort and commitment. I think ultimately it all comes down to what her long term goals are because that's how we get buy in is working backwards from where he wants to be and laying out the steps, skills, and commitment required to get there.

Good luck. It's a challenge for all kids, gifted or not.
 

Edited by calbear
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Coming back to add that my son is not totally on his own with this either. We use the Order Out of Chaos planner which is fabulous in design for scaffolding organization in a visual way. We use this to organize his study for classes and work together to plan which days he sets aside for various tasks. We discuss for this subject how many days and how long should his planned study time be for this. This helps to spread out heavier and lighter studying throughout the day. This is the first year that we have now moved to taking notes from a textbook in a spiral notebook. Last year, I had scaffolded this skill with a prewritten outline that he needed to fill in specific information from his textbook. 
 

 

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We aren't unschoolers, and we are also learning for mastery.  My students were not doing independent learning at that age.  Like 8, I am at their side, working along side them, no tests, no homework.  We work together and learn together.  I suppose you could say we were modeling appropriate learning behavior together, including studying the wrong answers to the problem sets.  

One activity that might have helped with note-taking was volumes 2 and 3 of BFSU for science.  He recommends keeping a science notebook.  We took that to mean that after a lesson was learned, I had my student sit at the table with me at the white board.  I'd ask a question from the unit, and she'd answer.  While she's describing some scientific principle, I scribed it on the whiteboard, correcting any misconceptions.  Then she copied that into her notebook.  

I know some kids are able to study independently at a young age, but that wasn't the case in our family.  I embraced the direct teaching that homeschooling enables in elementary and middle school and outsourced very little at that age.  

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