Students are taught many things in school.
The average student might leave high school knowing how to write a research paper, conjugate foreign language verbs, recite the periodic table of elements, solve for x, scan for iambic pentameter, make healthy eating choices, analyze a historic document, recognize major works of art — even, in some schools, to use a pottery wheel or learn Python.
But one thing that students are not taught in school is how to be an effective student. In other words, students don’t really know how to learn.
This is all too apparent when we consider not only the hours a student spends in the classroom, but also the hours spent at his or her desk.
Many students put in time and genuine effort at their desks. They open their laptops and pull out their highlighters. They have good intentions.
Yet the time they spend at the desk may be inefficient, consisting of busywork rather than focused, deliberate study.
Other students are simply overwhelmed by the different subjects they are taking and the different requirements per subject. They may not have the organizational tools or good habits to stay on track.
Some of the problems can begin in the classroom itself, where students without strong note-taking skills and the ability to focus can often miss critical information.
Parents (and educators) are often under the impression that less successful students are less successful because of their character or disposition. That So-and-So is lazy or under-motivated or just doesn’t care.
However, it may be the case that less successful students simply don’t have a set of tools necessary to succeed in the modern-day academic environment. It may be that So-and-So is actually highly intelligent, curious, eager to learn, and desirous of success. But that student may not have the practical skills and strategies to achieve his goals.
The very existence of the phrase “study skills” shows that the act of learning is not simply innate.
It is not something that you simply pick up, or don’t pick up. The set of tools needed to be an effective student can, and should, be taught and acquired.
Students can learn how to manage time, have priorities, and efficiently process information. They can develop the habit of keeping a neat desk or backpack. They can use organizational tools and planners.
They can learn how to read a textbook while scanning for important information, how to take notes, how to preview and review for a certain class, how to use memory aids. Just as professionals undergo practical training to excel in their fields, students can and should be taught the tools to excel as learners.
As far back as the 1950s, colleges were identifying a lack of study skills in their incoming freshmen. Today, study skill aids can be found at every level, starting with those that target lower elementary school children to those that are taught at the collegiate level.
Even a university such as Stanford, which is populated by successful students, offers Learning Skills workshops and academic coaching for its undergraduates. Here are some of the topics covered in these workshops and coaching sessions:
- Time management
- Note taking
- Stopping procrastination
- Remembering what you’ve read
- Reading efficacy
- Exam prep
- Setting short-term and long-term goals
- Active learning
- How to write
What’s surprising about this list of topics is that it shows how a college student at a prestigious university is struggling with the very same things as a high school or middle school student. It also shows that these skills do not usually develop over the years without some concerted, deliberate training.
Most importantly, this list of topics shows that the things that hinder student success, such as note taking or time management, come with proven, practical solutions.
FLEX Study & Organizational Skills (SOS) is a program that provides students with the skills, habits, tools, and techniques that will serve them for a lifetime of learning.
This program, designed for students preparing for high school or at the beginning of their high school careers, seeks to equip and empower students to maximize their academic potential through the use of disciplined planning and simple but supportive digital technological tools. SOS Coaches help students to think ahead, set specific academic goals and develop realistic strategies for achieving them.
We have found that students who acquire these skills have more motivation, greater time awareness, an ability to work within accountability structures, and the discipline to maintain a healthy relationship with the digital world. Emotionally, students experience less pressure and anxiety.
As an added bonus, most students who invest time in SOS often use less time “studying” than their peers, because they have developed the know-how for targeted, productive learning.
Contact us today to learn more about SOS!
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