Being home, during COVID-19 without any academics is an excellent opportunity for your teen to reflect on how they learn best and to explore ways for them to enhance their success across all disciplines.

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High school poses a variety of challenges for students. Students have little control over what material is learnt in the classroom and how the information is presented to them. What students do have control over, is how they learn that information. Learning is a process that is unique to each individual student and it is vital for your child to assess how they learn.

There are many fundamentals that make students experience success; regardless of natural academic ability. Organization and time management, study skills and effective reading comprehension strategies are tools that students can work with to ease the demands of high school.

Organization and Time Management

Organization and time management is one of the best habits a high school student can practice. Transitioning from class to class, having multiple teachers and having different classes everyday can be an organizational nightmare. Using tools to aid with time management, such as, like an agenda or planner, can alleviate much anxiety and save valuable time.

An agenda or planner, either digital or paper format, should be used every single day. A high school student’s agenda can become be their best friend throughout their secondary school years. It must follow them, to and from school and be brought to all classes.

Ideally, students would devote time, before the beginning of a new school week, to schedule out their school days. Their classes should be written in chronologically everyday, and their homework filled in after each class. Any obligations or extracurriculars must be included, as well. By visually mapping out their weeks, students can then plan out and schedule in, study and homework time.

Students should also be consistently organizing their classroom materials. Keeping notes and materials in designated binders and appropriate sections saves valuable time. If your child struggles with keeping their materials organized, set aside time as needed, to reorganize.

Study Skills

Quite often students fall into the bad practice of studying the manner, regardless of, if they have experienced success from their study methods. For example, many students will reread for hours as means of studying; as opposed to, actively engaging with their material, which facilitates memorization. Rote memorization is extremely difficult and does not help a student remember and/or understand information long term. Students need to understand their learning style, as it is important for them to use their strengths to their advantage.

Visual learners are students who respond well to visual stimuli; when they can see the relationship between ideas and concepts. The use of maps, diagrams and outlines will help these learners grasp knowledge more effectively.

Auditory learners are excellent listeners. This type of learner benefits from hearing information, reading aloud to themselves and frequently repeating information orally. Auditory learners should engage in discussions with others to solidify their learning.

Kinesthetic learners tend to be naturally active individuals and should have a hands-on approach to learning. Whenever possible, kinesthetic learners should be manipulating objects, conducting experiments, drawing, etc. Incorporating movement into studying by, taking frequent movement breaks, playing with a fidget spinner, or sitting on a balance ball, can help kinesthetic learners engage with and remember information.

Reading and writing learners are learners who best learn from the written word. These learners tend to be naturally skilled readers and writers. These students should always transcribe any information presented orally. Rereading texts and taking condensed notes is a perfect way for these learners to internalize information.

Often, students tend to gravitate towards a certain subject which lends itself naturally to their learning style. Get your child to think, when teachers present information to them in the classroom; when do they find that information is more easily retained? Is it when a teacher is giving a lecture? When a diagram is drawn on the board? When a textbook is being read? Etc. By understanding how they learn, students can approach academics with more confidence, study more efficiently and effectively, and thus, see their marks improve.

Reading Comprehension

Being able to proficiently approach a text, decode meaning and critically engage with the written word is one of the most valuable skills a student can develop throughout high school. All disciplines rely heavily on a student’s ability to read effectively. Practicing good reading strategies while reading, can immensely facilitate understanding.

A common mistake students often make, is that they simply read without actively engaging with a text. Regardless of subject, students should practice self-monitoring strategies, while they read to check for comprehension. While engaging with a written text, students must always take notes in their own words.

It is important for students to keep their learning style in mind while working on reading comprehension. An auditory learner will, for example, benefit from hearing an audiobook while they read. Comparatively, a visual learner would benefit from making a concept map while they read, so that they may see the relationship between ideas presented to them in a text.

When reading, a very simple question should always be asked; “why?” Students should consistently engage in critical thinking and force themselves to question everything, and then justify their opinion. When students question information, it forces them to examine and engage, in a meaningful manner with a text. Which in turn, solidifies their understanding.

These skills are vital to learn and practice throughout high school and will one day come naturally. Encourage your child to take this time to learn more about their strengths, to develop them and to use their strengths to their advantage.

Christina Puliatti B.ed Specialized Tutor at The West Island Therapy and Wellness Centre