Is studying something we’re supposed to be born how to do? Our kids come home from school and we expect them to study what they’re learning in school. But have you ever wondered if they really know how to study? Well, to be honest, I never really wondered until a few nights ago. I was staring at my books wondering where the hell I was supposed to start amongst the mad pile of endless pages to study for my own test. I had read over the stuff before and followed along in my teachers structured classroom setting but on my own? I was completely lost! I found myself sitting there wondering how I should study so that my efforts were efficient enough to get an A on my upcoming test. Not to mention I only had about three days to study a month’s worth of learning. With my busy life, I have to learn a lot quicker than most because I don’t have the time to “take it easy”.
So, after some time, I had come up with a plan and my studying began. But man! Learning how to study is half the battle when it comes to test taking and learning.
The very next day my stubborn as can be daughter came home from school and reluctantly informed me that I needed to sign her test to acknowledge that I had seen her score. I could tell that her grade was going to be less than satisfactory by the A through F standards by the look on her face. 80%. Okay, not horrible but like I tell her, if she can solve a Rubik cube, she can get A’s! So I asked her why she missed so many and I got the universal “I don’t know” which are my kid’s favorite words and my most annoying. I went on to ask her if she had studied for the test to which she replied with a frustrated yes. Now I don’t expect my kids to be 100% responsible for homework and studying but usually I would have them study quietly in their rooms and remind them to come get me if they needed help.
It’s frustrating as a parent when you know what your child is capable of but you don’t know how to go about bringing it out in them. Then I started thinking about the night before and how my late night studying session had gone. If I didn’t know how to study, I wouldn’t be able to learn what I need to know. I realized what was going on. My daughter was fully capable of studying but on her own, she didn’t know how to study. I have years of experience studying on her and I still don’t know how to study for some tests.
It was time for a new plan! I confronted my daughter again about her upcoming test. Of course when I brought up studying for her next “words” test, she grunted and crossed her arms letting me know I’d have to knock down that wall again to get through to her but when she saw my excitement, her wall came down quite easily. I told her this time studying was going to be fun because I was going to learn the words with her. So that night we sat down with some hot chocolate and I taught her how to study instead of just telling her to study. I discussed with her how to learn new words; you can’t just memorize textbook definitions. You have to learn the basic meanings and how to apply them in context. So I had her read off each word to me and I gave her the most basic definition followed by any sub definitions for each. Then I would ask her if she understood and to give me her own sentence using each word. We actually had a lot of fun doing it and I could tell how much of a difference it made that I gave her some structure to follow instead of expecting her to do it on her own! I made sure she understood each word not only by the textbook definition but by her own as well.
A couple days later she came home and again informed me that she had a test for me to sign but this time she was so excited for me to see it that she even got it out for me instead of me having to fish through her trapper keeper. 98%! I was so proud of her. We both have plenty more tests to conquer in our future but now that we both have a new appreciation for studying, I think there are also going to be plenty more A’s in our future as well.