Editor's Note: Skylar Anderson has been helping local kids hone their study skills in classes and seminars through StudyRight for the last couple of years. As we get ready for the school year, Anderson, who graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University and was his high school's valedictorian, shares these tips for parents with tween and teen guys.
Some of our most frequent questions from parents surround helping middle and high school guys learn. Study skills are hugely important, but it seems like guys (myself included) are so unique that we need our own special learning handbook.
That sentiment may not be too far off. Here are three guy-specific study skills parents can encourage middle and high school guys to develop to boost their grades.
1. Encourage visual learning
Guys tend to process information in highly visual ways. For example, which would guy student prefer: Watching three hours of TV, or talking for three hours over a cup of hot cocoa? This preference for visual information isn't bad, but learning loads of information verbally (like in a textbook) does get tricky.
Visual learners can still thrive in highly verbal environments, though, by using learning strategies that make verbal info visual. Try these two for starters: First, encourage your dude to make timelines when studying history. This helps organize verbal info visually and helps guys connect events together, a helpful benefit on any essay test. Second, when vocab tests come up, try memorizing words in connected groups rather than individually. This brings a visual boost to a verbal task.
2. Encourage active learning
It seems like guys are active in every area of life except learning. Apparently the best way to get us to stop going is put us in a desk and try to teach us something. But this active streak in every guy can accelerate the learning process in a big way.
If your guy isn't already doing this, encourage him to take notes in every class. It takes no extra time, but engages the brain. Even if notes aren't his cup of tea, encourage him to produce something every time he learns. Learning isn't just absorbing; it requires input and output.
3. Be OK with all the fidgeting
We are not necessarily suggesting parents “encourage” fidgeting. We're just saying that it can fall in the category of “kinesthetic learning.” Does your son tap his pencil, click his pen, bounce his knee, kick a soccer ball against the wall, or do anything else that involves constant movement? While possibly getting on your nerves, this movement can help the learning process.
Consider trying to refocus that constant movement instead of cutting it off. If he clicks a pen, try giving him a stress ball. It's quieter and will still help that brain stay active.
Skylar Anderson is the Seminar Director for StudyRight and a current graduate student. For more learning strategies for your middle school or high school guy, check out The Dudes' Guide to Study Skills from StudyRight.