Know Your Strengths

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

By the time your child begins junior high, you can help discover the study strategies that best fit his/her learning style. These can be important skills for a child to use throughout life when new material needs to be tackled. It’s especially helpful for your child to know their strengths as they head into their college experience.

For example, we realized quickly that my youngest son struggled to plow through text book reading assignments. When reading silently, his mind would wander, he would lose his place and become frustrated. This didn’t happen with recreational reading when the story or information was captivating. But with dry text books he would quickly start to struggle to get through it. We found, however, that if he read the chapter aloud, he got through it smoothly and retained the information easily.  Reading aloud engaged more of his brain. His mouth, voice, ears and eyes were all on the same page and his mind didn’t wander. Sometimes he would read with funny accents or in the voice of Scooby-do or some other character. This also added novelty and kept his brain engaged. Reading a text assignment was no longer a chore.

Another strategy that can help with retention is to read the selection aloud and record it. Then listen again once or twice, even while you walk the dog, rake the yard or exercise. You’ll find retention gets stronger.

Maybe a brain mapping style diagram will help your learner visualize the information or try a flow chart where appropriate. The Institute for Excellence in Writing teaches a note taking approach that makes more sense than the traditional hierarchy format. You can find their classes at their website. Buy them on DVD, use them for multiple children and then sell them to another homeschool family. Overall, a low cost for some great material.

When it comes to information that must be well learned or memorized (specialized vocabulary or dates and events), creating your own flashcards and working through them several times can be a winning approach. With technology, you could create a slide show of the information or a power point and go through that several times before an exam. Any of these approaches will be more interactive and effective than simply rereading your dry notes or the textbook. Adding a related image to your flash cards or slide show frames (you can pull them off the internet for nearly any topic) can further improve retention.

The key is to experiment with what method creates the strongest recall for your child. Everyone’s different in this area, so help your child find the most efficient path to success.