I guess high school must be harder these days. I always studied on my own, but in the last 10 or 15 years, it seems that most junior high and high school students need your help to study, especially before an important test.
First of all, make sure your teen has good study skills. There are classes that concentrate on developing good study skills and efficient use of time. Do this before your teen starts high school. We live in a very small town in Arizona and we were able to find such a class for our daughter. It’s done her a world of good.
Once your teenager has good study skills, they should only ask you to help them study for a quiz or test. Nothing could be easier. You just have to be willing to spend two or three hours a month to make sure your teen is ready for his next test.
Here are some things that I do that have worked well with our teenage son:
*** For concept-oriented courses such as history, literature, and science, look through the chapters that will be covered on the test and concentrate on words you see in bold letters. These are usually basic concepts or definitions. Ask your teen the correct definitions for each one of these. If he is having trouble here, don’t move any further until he has these ideas memorized. You may have to get him to write down the definitions on three by five cards and study them on his own.
*** Once your teen has the basic concepts down, move to the end of each chapter and ask him questions from there. Often, teachers will simply copy questions from this section or make up very similar questions. The thing to remember here is that your teenager’s instructor has a teacher’s edition, which includes the correct answers to all chapter questions. Once your student is able to answer the questions in the back of each chapter, it’s time to move on.
*** Go through each chapter again and start to ask some “thought” questions. Word your questions like this: “Why did Washington cross the Delaware?” or “What did Washington hope to gain by crossing the Delaware in the middle of winter?” or “What would you have done if you were Washington? Would you have crossed the Delaware in winter? Why or why not?”. Making up questions like this helps your teen to think for himself and not just memorize the “right” answers. This will help him enormously when he starts taking subjective(essay) tests in college.
*** For math subjects or subjects that require a lot of math(physics, inorganic chemistry, any honors math course), the best way to help your teen prepare for any test is to have him do problems. Have him learn just one way to do each type of problem and make him check his work. Some math books have on line answer keys. Some sites will show how the problem was solved and give the right answer. Most math books have the odd numbered problem answers in the back of the book. Before the test, have your teen do all the even numbered problems and look up the answers on line. Once your teen can do well with each type of problem likely to be on the test, he is ready.
*** Discourage your teen from cramming for any test, even in high school. I realize that a bright high school student can get away with studying for a test the night before, but he will run into a wall the moment he gets to college. I’ve known many of my high school classmates that ran into this problem in college, including myself. Most of us just never learned good study habits. Make sure this doesn’t happen to your teen. I remember one of my fellow high school classmates told me that his parents made him study two hours before dinner and two hours after dinner. This may not work for your teen; but the whole idea is to encourage him to study every day for at least one hour.