Notetaking 101

Posted on April 18, 2012. Filed under: Education, Parenting | Tags: , , , , |

So you’re trying to do the “parently” thing and help your child study, only to discover that the notes they have taken for the test are incomplete or don’t make any sense whatsoever. Sound familiar? Read on, my friend. So you’re thinking it would be a colossal waste of time for both parties involved to study from these notes. At this point your only option is to go through the book or whatever materials you have handy and try to redo the notes. This can be stressful in those last-minute study session scenarios (which they usually always are!) but most times is the only way to ensure your child does well on the test.

If this happens ever so often than perhaps your child was having a bad day and wasn’t as attentive as they should have been during class. A friendly reminder of the importance of these notes may be all your child needs to get them back on track. However, if you find this happens often, than perhaps there’s a bigger issue – maybe your child simply doesn’t know how to take notes. Think about it…How often are we taught the art of taking good notes? This seems to be just one of those things that is assumed a child will catch on to.

So put your teacher hat on and I will share some tips that I have learned on how to improve your child’s notetaking. This idea came from Dr. Judy Willis which she shares in her book How Your Child Learns Best. It really takes a hands-on approach and is on my list of tips to try!

  • Find an article/book that is of interest to your child and read together. You can read this to your child or have them read it aloud. Either will work as the focus here is deciphering what is important from the reading.
  • Pause periodically during the reading and discuss some of the important aspects of the book with your child. This will hopefully help your child remember some of the key points.
  • Once the article/book is read, both you and your child should take notes simultaneously.
  • Once complete, compare your notes. Mark those notes that you both wrote down. See what your child wrote that you didn’t and determine together whether this was a unique point that needed to be written out or whether it was captured somewhere else in your notes. Point out those things that you wrote down that they didn’t and explain why these were important to include.
  • Repeat this exercise as often as necessary until your child shows some confidence in taking notes. Once they seem to get the hang of it, you can begin to show the tips of how to abbreviate and/or add side notes so that they can make sure they capture everything and can better understand the notes they took during class.
  • When taking unaided notes, you can teach your child how to recognize those things that are important to know (bolded terms, important people/places, bulleted-out lists, chapter summaries and questions)

Becoming a good note taker will allow your child to excel on exams by giving them the material they need to study. Building their confidence to achieve this task empowers your child to be able to study on their own and become more self-reliant. While you will always do what you can to help your child, empowering them to do it on their own allows them to take charge of their education and is something they can take with them into adulthood.

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