For most students, tests are an everyday fact about going to school. Personally, I don’t think that young kids should be tested at all, that education is a gift that should be given freely. Talented teachers know if their students understand the concepts or not without having a test to prove it. However, unless you home school your children and feel the same way, it would be unusual for your child to go a week without being tested. Often, it is multiple times a week. So what is the best way to study?
Before I answer that question, let me give you a VERY brief overview of how the brain works. Our brain takes the information it gained from all of our senses – seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching – and puts that information into our neurons. That’s right, EVERYTHING that you have ever seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched is located in your brain somewhere. However, you may not have access to it, especially if it was only a few time or you weren’t focused. When we tune people out, we aren’t really listening. ☺ When we ask questions or otherwise engage with the information, we strengthen the ties and the neural connections in our brain to what we are focused on making it easier to recall and use that information later. This last part is KEY to studying. Your student – and YOU – need to be engaged in the learning process not just a passive bystander. What does that even mean? Well, here are some tips that I use successfully with my clients and own children:
Instead of having them just stare at a study guide or note cards or sit there while you ask questions, have them ask YOU questions. I like to go back and forth with who asks the questions. This is easily done with one of the board games I’ve made up (to get directions on how to make a DIY board game, click HERE for my download). You can also do this in the car or at dinner. Yes, this means YOU need to learn the material too. However, by you learning it too alongside your child, it is showing them that learning new things is important at any age and is interesting and fun. That alone helps your child’s attitude. Your child will always enjoy knowing more than you as well. This can become a great family bonding time.
Do you have a child that is an introvert or shy? If so, they probably would cringe at asking you questions. Please don’t make them if they don’t enjoy it. Another way is to have them engage the information using multiple senses. If they are learning spelling words, have them make them out of play dough (here’s a recipe for a fun DIY marshmallow play dough) or paint the words. Have them write them in sentences or say them out loud. If they like to dance, put on some instrumental music and have them say the facts while they are dancing.