Teaching a student how to study is a very difficult task most often attempted in the middle school years. The transition from elementary school into a middle school environment where there are many different teachers, subjects and expectations can be quite overwhelming for a student. As a result, it is important that parents and teachers put in place a system for good study habits.
Keeping track of what is due when and for which class is a daunting task for a middle school student. A planner is a wonderful study aid that will allow students to write down all homework assignments, projects and test dates so that they can practice organization and time-management. Teachers can encourage the use of a planner by asking all students to take out their planners to write down assignments at the end of each class. Parents should check the planner nightly so that they are aware of the assignments that are due for their middle school students.
After homework assignments are completed each night, it always a good idea to review class notes and revisit class readings for each subject. Spending as little as five to ten minutes per subject will reinforce skills and strengthen comprehension for middle school students. In addition, by looking over notes and readings, a student will begin to self-assess whether or not he or she needs to seek extra help or clarification from the teacher. Furthermore, when it comes time for an exam, students will not need to cram the night before the test because they will have already spent time reviewing the material.
Flashcards, Review Sheets and Games
Help students prepare for an exam by encouraging the use of review sheets, flashcards and review games. Teachers should create review sheets that reflect the types of questions that will be on an exam. For middle school students, review sheets are especially helpful because they provide a scope and sequence for the completed unit. Students should then use their notes and texts to answer the questions on the review sheet. Flashcards are another great study tool because they allow students to review test material anywhere.
Study groups enable students to work together to achieve common academic goals. In middle school, study groups also promote teamwork. For test preparation, teachers should aim to create study groups composed of students with different academic strengths. Mixing groups heterogeneously allows for a broader group knowledge base in terms of the curriculum being reviewed. Members of the group should share questions they have about the unit with their peers. Group members can aid in teaching one another about the material. Time should be provided for study groups to meet in class. In addition, groups can meet in the school library or online once they arrive home.
Kelly Chester is an educator and writer who has worked in both public and private schools for almost a decade. Her areas of expertise include literature, writing, history and art for adolescents. In addition to writing reports for NYSAIS, she has also written a biography on artist Frank Covino, which was published in the anthology “Teaching Lives.”