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Building Study Skills

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: How do I help my fourth-grader to study more, especially in math and history?

A: Your daughter must approach the study of each subject in a slightly different way. She will not be able to study math in the same way as history. For example, in math she will always be building on what she has learned previously. Most of the work in math involves solving problems, and you can help your child learn how to do this. Tell her to take notes on everything the teacher writes on the blackboard, especially examples of problems. Then when she begins to do homework or classwork, have her first study the examples in the textbook and her class notes. She will find it helpful to redo some of the sample problems. If your daughter does not understand a concept, help her immediately or encourage her to get help from the teacher. Another area in which you can help your child is by making sure that she has solid computational skills, which means being able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions, and decimals as well as use a calculator effectively.

How well your child does in history depends greatly upon how well she has mastered the content in the textbook. She must always learn the important terms that are in bold type in each chapter. These terms are usually defined in the glossary and are definitely the key to understanding the material. Your daughter also has to learn how to interact with the textbook rather than just reading it. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use SQ3R, a technique frequently taught in elementary and middle school.

Each letter in SQ3R stands for a separate step. The "S" tells your child to survey the material in an assignment by reading all the headings and subheadings. Then the "Q" tells her to write a question for each heading so she has a purpose for reading carefully. The first "R" stands for reading the material under a heading and finding the answer to her question. The next "R" involves reciting the answer aloud while the final "R" stands for reviewing the previous steps.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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