Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals realize that their lifelong learning is enhanced with study. Most of us started learning as soon as we were born when we uttered our first cry to notify the world that we were not happy about our recent experience. We later learned to cry whenever we needed attention – hunger, tired, etc. We also learned to suck soon after we were born – or before birth. Before too many months and years passed, we were crawling, walking, talking, riding bicycles, etc. Then we went to school and learned to read, do mathematics, etc.
I recently started another semester at Brigham Young University-Idaho, and I recognized that I needed to learn to study better. So, I went to my bookshelves and pulled out a book that I purchased for my younger children many years ago. It is the first book of a two-volume set published by World Book and is titled The World Book of Study Power. I started reading it recently and realized that there was important information that parents can pass along to their children.
The first thing that I learned was to differentiate between learning and studying. Sometimes people think that there is a wall between learning and studying because some things are fun to learn and studying is hard work. The above referenced book begins with a section called “Why Study?”
This book is about understanding yourself so that you can motivate yourself and perform with more confidence at school or work. You’ll learn to remove the artificial barrier between studying and learning. When that wall is up, you study because you have to answer to some else – not because you want the satisfaction of learning. By tearing down the wall, you’ll study to learn instead of studying to perform (page 16).
A year or so ago I was with my then-ten-year-old granddaughter, and she was rattling off all kinds of information. I asked her how she learned so much about so many different kinds of things. She answered, “I read books, and I learn from what I read.” So, one thing that parents can do to help their children gain a love for learning is to encourage reading of good books.
The book on study skills continues by stating that “Studying is something people do throughout their lives.” It explains that students study because they “have assignments to read, papers to write, and tests to take.” However, studying continues long after the student graduates.
Studying doesn’t end when you leave school. Adults may have oral or written reports to present, budgets to monitor, ideas to evaluate, workshops to attend, and classes to take. To keep up, they need to schedule their time so that they can read and research, listen and write, question and remember. To stay on top of things at work, adults read specialized magazines and journals. To process this deluge of information, they use study skills (page 17).
I recently visited with two different doctors; one is an emergency room doctor, and the other is an orthopedic surgeon. Both of them were studying in order to pass their board exams, which they have to take every ten years. One of them told me that he had studied for two months between his two jobs, and the other one took two weeks off work to study. So, we know that study skills are needed long after a student leaves school.
The book lists some study skills in one column and suggests that the reader writes when they use a particular skill in a second column and how the reader uses the skill in a third column. Just reading the list shows that study skills are useful outside the classroom. See how you do on this the list of study skills (page 18).
. Remembering details and recognizing how they fit together
. Writing clearly to express what I know
. Reading to understand and remember
. Asking questions to find out or clarify
. Taking notes
. Reviewing for tests or presentations
. Taking tests or answering questions
One of the most valuable study skills is the ability to ask questions. Part of this skill is the capacity to know the right time to ask a question. “Questions lead you down the path of learning…. When you stop asking, you stop learning. Questioning is a sign that you’re thinking. You’re trying to make sense of new information” (page 20).
The best way to learn new information is to use study skills, but the actual “learning itself takes place inside…. Studying is supposed to lead to learning – but as you know, that’s not always the case…. What you gain from studying depends on what you bring to the task” (page 20).
In addition to encouraging children to read, parents can also encourage their children to ask questions and to give honest compliments when one notices a child using one of the study skills. It is a simple task to say something like, “I appreciate the way that you are listening to what I am saying” or to ask a child to remember some details and explain how they fit together.
By encouraging children to learn good study skills, we can help them to learn to love learning. In doing so, we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations.