Families, communities, and nations can be strengthened by individuals who understand that their learning plan should be based on the actual needs. A person can begin by asking the following questions about the situation: Why? How? What? Why is studying this material important to me? How can I motivate myself to learn this material? What can I do to accomplish this task?
The World Book of Study Power, volume 1, discusses this subject in an effort to help readers develop a study plan and states that any learning plan should be based on the strengths and preferences of the learner as well as their resources, time, and expectations. Much of the following information comes from the book in direct quote or general ideas. The book gives the following example of how to make a plan. Remembering that the “task is to learn the spelling and definitions of words,” decide which strategy would work best for you?
What would you do if you had to learn the spellings and meanings of several words? Maybe you have a vocabulary test coming up. Or maybe you’re preparing a report on a new computer system and will use lots of technical words that are new to you. You have a week to review for the test or write the report. You’ll be judged on your accuracy.
How are you going to stir your own curiosity and drive to learn these words? What attitude can get you through this? This is probably the most difficult step. Maybe you’re wondering why you have to do this in the first place. Try to figure out a reason ….
Now, think about your strengths and weaknesses as a learner. Think about what you should do and what you should avoid doing.
Learning new words involves memorization. If you learn visually, you may want to read the list of words and their definitions. Illustrating the definitions may help. Or, try drawing a box around the word to see what shape the word forms. If you are a verbal learner, you could use the words to make up a story. If you learn best by hearing things, you may want to tape yourself saying, spelling, and defining the word so that you can play it over and over. You could even make up songs about the words. If you learn best by doing, try using the words in everyday conversation. Maybe somebody will ask you what the words mean – that will give you a chance to see if you truly understand them.
Also think about whether you’ll learn better if you work alone or with a companion. Do you like to work at your own pace? Or does another person’s enthusiasm help get you going? …
Consider what you already know. Which words and spellings already are part of your vocabulary? You don’t need to spend time relearning those words. Which words are similar to words you already know? Apply that understanding to the new words.
Which words are completely new? Look them up in a dictionary. Read the definitions and look at the word histories, or etymologies. Finding out where words come from explains a lot about them. Make a conscious effort to connect what find out to words you already know (page 27-28).
The book also suggests that the learner consider the time of day that is best for concentration and the place that would work best for that time. A learner must also consider if soft background music is helpful or harmful for concentration as well as the type of lighting and the temperature needed for good study.
The learner must understand that long study periods may not be conducive to good results. They might decide to take regular breaks from studying in order to rest body and mind and to return to the task rejuvenated.
The student must also analyze how their study plan is working. If the plan is too time-consuming or will not work for other reasons, the learner will need to change the plan or even make a new one. If the plan works and the goal is accomplished, a note should be made of the plan and how it worked. If the plan did not work so well, the effective student would determine what could be changed in the future to make the plan work better. Successful learners are not necessarily smarter or work harder. The successful learner is the person who learns to study smarter, but not study longer or harder.
Parents can best teach their children that learning is important by being a learner. Children watch what their parents do and try to imitate the actions. If a parent would like their child to be a reader, the parent’s example is the strongest teaching model. If a parent would like to change their child’s behavior, they must first look to their own behavior. Parents cannot expect children to behave in ways that the parents do not model. When a parent sees their child doing the desired activities, compliment and encourage them. “I noticed that you were reading. What do you like best about reading?” Parents must also remember that each child is an individual with their own learning pace. The ideal situation is for parents to make learning and studying a way of life for their family and to make it fun. They can help their children develop a life-long love for learning.
This writer is encouraged by the statement, “Learning how to learn is a lifelong endeavor. The short-term goals are completing assignments for work or school. The long-term goal is growing in wisdom” (page 29). This means that one is never too old to learn better study skills and improve learning habits. Learning new skills and information brings greater confidence and a stronger drive to keep learning. This increased confidence brings increased self-esteem as it strengthens the learner. Stronger and more independent individuals strengthen families, communities, and nations.