5 Ways to Teach Study Skills to Middle Schoolers

Ginger Abbot

Sep 20, 2021

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No single study strategy works for everyone. Some students can memorize information easier than others. Whether it’s reviewing notes for an hour or spending three hours rereading slideshows, every student can find ways to improve their study skills.

As an educator, you can teach students study skills that will improve their performance and retention of information.

Teaching middle school students how to study can seem daunting at first. But with the right tools, educators can engage students and emphasize the importance of preparing for exams.

Below are five ways you can teach your middle schoolers how to improve upon their skills and create helpful study habits.

5 Ways to Teach Study Skills

Middle school is the perfect time to plant the studying seed. As students progress through their education, studying becomes increasingly important.

It’s recommended that high school students start studying for final exams two to three months beforehand. There’s a clear difference between middle school study needs and high school study needs! It’s part of your job to bridge the gap between the two.

Subjects become more complex, and students will most likely need to study more often. Creating good study habits early on in middle school will significantly improve their ability to ace tests in the future.

Here are some creative ways to teach study skills to students that will help them improve their test scores and succeed in class.

1. Encourage Diligent Note-Taking

Taking notes is standard in every classroom. It’s rare to see a student without a pen and paper on their desk. However, not all students are equipped with information on how to take diligent notes.

Consider teaching note-taking skills as part of your curriculum early on in the school year. Middle school students are adjusting from elementary school into a more structured, rigid system. The goal is to have students know how to take detailed notes before they enter high school.

One way to teach note-taking is through annotating short stories or other passages in English classes. Other than learning how to take notes, students engage with creative fiction stories, and their reading comprehension will improve. The objective here is to have those skills from English class transfer into other subjects like math and science.

Without a good set of notes, studying becomes more challenging. Stress the importance of keeping a neat and organized notebook and different notebooks for each subject of learning.

2. Offer Preview Sessions

For some students, lessons during the school day just don’t stick. To combat this, consider adding sessions where you can preview lessons for the next day.

This can be a brief slide on a presentation you’re giving where you foreshadow tomorrow’s lesson. It could also be a 30-minute after-school session where you dive a bit deeper into the topic and allow students to ask questions. Find new ways to give your students a little heads-up about upcoming lessons.

Students who need extra learning opportunities will find these sessions helpful and may be less intimidated walking into your classroom the next day. This is also an opportunity for you as an educator to build relationships with your students and encourage them to seek help when they need it.

3. Stay After for Group Study

Studying individually versus studying in groups has pros and cons, but let’s focus on the advantages of group study for now.

Studying in groups fosters an excellent environment for discussion and collaboration. Students will benefit from the ideas of their classmates and incorporate them into their own study skills.

Study groups are common in high school and college but offer the same benefits to younger students. Because middle school students may be less well-behaved, you must monitor progress during these sessions. Limiting distractions is critical in this setting.

4. Incorporate Flashcards

Regardless of the subject, flashcards should be a staple in any student’s studying toolkit. Be sure to explain how flashcards work for your students and explain the benefits of using them. Students may find flashcard practice fun and engaging — they can test themselves and see how much they already know about the material.

After covering material in your lessons, encourage students to make a handful of flashcards that test them on that material. Once students complete their flashcards, they can trade with the person sitting next to them and see what they came up with.

There are endless ways to utilize flashcards in your classroom — so get creative with it! The best part is that students can take these flashcards home to help them review the material before a test or quiz.

5. Set a Study Schedule

Middle schoolers are in the process of adopting solid time management skills, but there’s a learning curve. Some students naturally develop time management skills, but others need more time to find what works for them.

We’ve all been there — rushing to review your last page of notes before walking into a test. Trying to study at the last minute is ineffective for most students.

Provide your students with resources and advice on how long to study for, and what material to study, and encourage them to set a study timer.

Have your students choose specific times of the day to study. Perhaps students are involved in extracurricular activities and can only study at nighttime. Ask them to share their intended study times with you and offer guidance during this conversation.

Emphasize Good Study Habits

As a teacher, you’re responsible for imparting knowledge to tomorrow’s leaders. The goal is to share this information and have students retain it as best as possible.

Improving study skills is nonlinear — students may fail with a bad grade. Consider speaking to students about viewing poor grades as an opportunity to grow and try a new method of studying. Maybe they need to work on their time management skills or need to take better notes.

Middle school is a transitional period for students and a perfect time to create a foundation for studying. Take an active role in developing the study skills that will carry them through their time in school.

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