Not only does notetaking help a student go back and study class material at home and review for tests, but it also helps him or her learn better in class. However, many students are never taught how to take notes effectively. The following tips will help your child better notes in class!
1. Take notes by hand. While some teachers now allow students to use laptops, iPads, or other forms of technology in class, this can actually hurt one’s ability to take notes effectively. A study by Princeton University found that students who took notes by hand actually remembered and retained information better than classmates who used laptops. This happens because when using technology, students type what they hear verbatim without processing it. Students who write notes by hand condense the information as they write, picking out the most relevant information to retain.
2. Pick and choose what to focus on. Focus on the words and concepts that are most important to the lesson. Likewise, prioritize recording new information over things you already know. This keeps notes from becoming cluttered and allows the student to key in on concepts he or she wants to retain.
3. Use the “question, answer, evidence” model. After focusing in on the most important information from the lecture, encourage your student to write notes in the form of questions. Then, have him or her answer the question as well as provide examples. For example, a class discussion over Romeo & Juliet could include the question, “What is the central theme?” with the answer “consequence of holding grudges” followed by two to three specific examples.
4. Create one’s own shorthand. Even fast writers may only be able to record every other word from a lecture. While writing down every word may not be necessary, developing one’s own shorthand can help to take notes faster and record more information. Using abbreviations like wd or cd for would or could are quick ways to take notes faster. However, make sure your student will still be remember and read the abbreviations!
6. Ask for help if necessary. Taking notes is a learned skill; it takes repetition and practice in order to effectively record lectures in class. If your student is having trouble keeping up while taking notes, have him or her ask the teacher for tips and pointers for their specific class. Some teachers will even allow students to use a recording device in order to review the exact lecture after class. Likewise, don’t forget to encourage them to ask classmate for help. Sharing notes – not simply copying someone else’s work – allows them to get multiple perspectives on the same lesson.