Is Your Middle School Child an Expert at Studying?

Denise Madgey
Studying is hard work. Ask any student, and he would probably agree! Whether one likes it or not, studying is not an easy task but one in which you can succeed if you put forth the effort.
Did you know that at the end of eight years of school, most students have already spent at least 10,000 hours studying? After spending that much time on anything, most people would assume some sort of proficiency in the skill being practiced, right?

So, if your child isn’t an expert at studying yet, here are some study skills for middle schoolers that should help.
  1. Listen and pay attention in class. This seems basic, but it is an important point to make. Listening to the teacher, taking notes, and writing down what is on the board are all ways to keep the mind actively engaged and learning during class.  
  2. READ, READ, READ. Reading, in general, builds vocabulary and background knowledge for greater intellectual capacity. Weak reading skills often signal difficulty in learning. Reading requires that one do three things:
  • Concentrate on what is being read (understanding vocabulary, context, etc.)
  • Remember what is read (comprehension)
  • Apply what is read to personal experience (make it real)
     3. Review. Read over notes after class or at home to make sense of them and make sure they are clear and intelligible; Study to learn and understand the content. Just to memorize or study for a test and forget the content the next day seems like a waste of time. Memorization is important but retaining the information is more important.
    4. Be Realistic and Prioritize.
  • Help your child figure out which subject/concept is hardest for him to learn or comprehend and focus on that subject, leaving easier ones for later; OR, if it reduces the stress level, encourage your child to finish the tasks that take 5-10 minutes to complete (giving a sense of accomplishment).  Then he is free to tackle the harder task with greater concentration.
  • Teach your child how to plan for studying. Encourage him to ask: “What is it I don’t know and want or need to know?” and “What did the teacher emphasize in class?”  
  • Help your student manage time. One of the most important and difficult study skills to master in middle school is time management. All students NEED an agenda and need to learn how to use it. Students should plan out their week and schedule their time for study, sports, clubs, and even free time. They should determine when their best time for studying is and learn to take advantage of small chunks of available time. Often the best studying can be a focused half-hour of concentration vs. two hours of distracted attention. Some students need food, exercise, or a break before beginning to study; others do their best work in the evening or morning.
  • Help determine the best study techniques and how YOUR CHILD learns best. There is no “right way” of learning, but studying is hard work and it does take time, so encourage your child to plan it well.
  1. Visual: reading, drawing pictures, diagrams
  2. Auditory: listening, rhymes, repetition
  3. Oral: talking, explaining, discussing
  4. Tactile/Kinesthetic: moving, acting, doing, touching
5.Reflect. Have your child ask, “What is it that I still don’t understand? What doesn’t make sense? Where do I need to focus?” Middle school is a time for students to begin to take ownership for their learning and accept the consequences for not studying.  

6. Reteach. Could your child reteach this concept or information to another person? Challenge him to teach you the content or even enlist the help of the family pet.

7. Study for tests.
  • Fill out study guides given by the teacher and make sense of the content. Ask where does it fit in the bigger picture of things?
  • Have your student  make study guides from quizzes, notes, key points emphasized in class or on the quiz. Highlight key points and write them out. Many students make “quizlets” to help them study, and then share with others.
  • Semester exams can be stressful to students, especially if this is their first time taking them. Remind your child that exams are a means to synthesize the information learned throughout the year and make sense of it, allowing the student to figure out where it all fits into the bigger picture of what he knows and he still needs to learn. Semester and final exams help students connect the concepts learned and identify where they fit into the larger picture of the subject matter.
Studying is hard work and requires focused attention. As parents, we can help our children become proficient in the skill of studying and thus be better prepared in navigating life.

Do you have any students tips or tricks to share? If so, please add them to the comment section!

Denise Madgey is a former teacher and principal and currently serves as a tutor to students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. She is married to husband, Scott, and they have one daughter, Anne-Marie, who is in 7th grade at Pinecrest. She can be reached at denise.madgey@gmail.com.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK3-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.