Did you know that learning is not about being smart?
Does your child know?
As a neuroscience and learning expert, I can tell you for certain that learning is all about strategies and has nothing to do with being "smart".
What Makes Kids Think They Are Not Smart?
Unfortunately, most kids believe they are not smart when things don't go well in school- they tend to think the other kids are smarter than they are.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Imagine if you were graded on how well you played baseball if no one told you the specific strategies you needed to hold the bat, hitting, catching, throwing and how to exercise judgment for the sake of the whole team.
In fact, what would happen if you did not get to practice and did not even know the rules of the game but you were tested on it anyway and your entire school career and ability to proceed to the next grade level depended on you passing this one test? How would you feel?
Well- the same thing happens to many kids when it comes to school and they are struggling.
They see other kids with a better memory, faster reading and writing skills and most of those same kids are getting better grades too.
What your child does not know is that there are very specific strategies for mastering the game we call"school".
Here are a few of those strategies: (the entire study skills system appears in the resource book you see above).
Better Memory for Reading, Spelling, and any Textbook Chapter
1) If you want to have a better memory, you must pretend you are making a film of everything you read because that is the strategy that excellent readers use.
Turn printed text all into images and make it into a movie and voila - you'll remember what you read much easier.
Ever had your student go to the movies and be able to tell you all about it and then not recall even a single page of the text he or she just read?
The only reason that occurs is because either the text on the page itself does not look the same to your child as it does to others (yet another series of strategies corrects this); or your child is not making a movie out of what he or she reads. Try this at home and see what happens to your child's reading once you're sure there are n visual or perceptual problems as the roadblock.
2. What about spelling? Want your child to be a super speller?
Again- the spelling bee champs use a visual strategy and not an auditory one despite what you may have originally thought or been taught.
Don't have your kids practice their words aloud - they won't be taking the test in writing -have them look up and see the whole word in their mind.
Use color on the letters if they need to - put words on a card and have kids practice writing the words down and looking up to see the picture of their word.
This is why, by the way, that you may say words such as, "that does not look right", when you write down a word. You are actually recalling how the word looked and not how it sounded.
3. Learning Strategy for Taking Notes About a Chapter in a Textbook
Taking linear notes has been proven many times over to not get the best results when you want to recall a chapter in a text book.
Buzan and others have proven conclusively that making something referred to as mind-maps (I can them bubble maps or picture perfect summaries) ensures two things: that your child relates all the parts in the chapter to the whole and that he or she uses the most powerful memory strategy out there - pictures with associations.
Instead of highlighting with yellow (not much stands out mentally when you review a whole page of yellow highlighting - right?), draw a circle in the center of a large colored piece of paper and put spokes around it so you can put the sub-headings on each of those spokes.
Use a thin-tipped marker and write out the title of the chapter in the center circle, the names of the sub-headings go on the spokes and then you ask yourself one question about each sub-heading. Ask - what does this remind me of and you will get an image in your mind. The sillier and more colorful the better.
Attach that image to the actual meaning of the subheading information and you've just made a new neural connection in your brain - voila- learning is not about being smart!
The resource book below has 210 pages of specific strategies for learning anything, reading faster, writing, ways to outsmart your stress and much more.
Pat Wyman is the best-selling author of Amazing Grades: 101 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades Faster, Jackson's First Day of School and several other book. She is college professor and founder of several websites. Wyman is known as America's Most Trusted Learning Expert.