This may sound like a strange question to ask. Let me explain:
Both my son and my younger daughter are gifted students in certain areas. My son, age 15, encountered some subjects this past school year that were difficult for him. One of those subjects was math, and the other was science. Part of the problem was that he’s not particularly interested in either of these subjects. The other part of the problem was that, because learning has always come so easily to him, he was totally unprepared to deal with it when these subjects became a challenge for him. He has always managed to do well without really studying until now, so he was a little upset when he began making unsatisfactory grades.
The same thing happened to my younger daughter. She’s 9 and just completed 4th grade. She too has always learned easily and never had to really study. This past year she had some trouble with her Spanish class. The class was absolutely not too difficult for her. But since she knows very little about Spanish she, for the first time in her school “career,” really had to study to learn it.
When my children began making low grades in these subjects and started saying they didn’t like these subjects, I was confused at first. They had always done well, and we were all caught off guard when their grades began slipping. (To be honest, we don’t really do “grades” much in my homeschool. But it’s so much easier to use that term rather than explain how I assess their progress orally and sometimes through written work. My point is that they weren’t learning as much or as well as they had previously, which became a concern.)
I met with each child one-on-one to try to figure out what was going wrong this year. Was the material really too difficult? Was there some other problem? My children assured me that the material was just too difficult. As I began questioning them, though, I realized that the problem was that they were no longer able to learn without studying. They honestly didn’t know how to study because they’d never had a need to do it before! They didn’t even know that they needed to study. And they certainly didn’t know how to study.
In high school (where I met my husband, Scott), I remember that Scott never had to study. He read things or heard things and just remembered them. I, on the other hand, had to study to learn things. I never had to study really hard, but I definitely did have to study and put some effort into it. Because of my own experiences, it didn’t occur to me that not having to study could actually cause problems!
I explained this to my children so they would know what was going on. They hesitantly agreed that my assessment was probably correct. Neither of them was too thrilled, though, because that meant they were going to have to learn to study! They knew that they couldn’t always avoid subjects that were difficult for them and that they had to learn to study, but they still didn’t know how to go about it.
While it is a wonderful blessing to have children who learn easily, the fact is that they have to learn to study. I will continue this post on Wednesday, and I’ll share with you some of the things we’ve discovered about learning to study. In the mean time, I’d love to hear some tips and pointers from those of you who have taught your children to study!
Wendy lives in the South with her wonderful hubby and 3 great kiddos! She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for more than 20 years. Her oldest child has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, a typical boy, would rather do anything than school! Her youngest child is a little social butterfly and people lover. Wendy loves reading and quilting and will hopefully return to scrapbooking some time soon. You can visit her personal blog at Homeschooling Blessings.