In part 1, I suggested several ways to get your child interested in the past. Today, I have some advice for learning the material which leads to better grades. History is defined as the written record of man’s past so reading is intrinsic to doing well. Even though your middle schooler can read the words, she may not really comprehend what she is reading. Show her how each unit is divided into chapters, then those chapters are composed of sections and each section may be further subdivided. Help her formulate questions which may be answered in each section. The goal is for her to connect each subtopic to the main topic and finally to the chapter. This aids in seeing the “big picture, ” and helps put everything into context. Be sure she studies the pictures and maps, and understands their connection to the reading. Have her summarize each section she has read. Putting the material in her own words demonstrates her comprehension.
Once she has summarized the readings, she can begin learning important terms. Many texts will place these in bold font. They are usually categorized as people, places, events, or ideas (i. e. capitalism). I like putting these on notecards for easy review. A complete definition or description, the importance, context, and date or time period are needed. For example, Manhattan Project:
- Secret American plan during World War II to develop the atomic bomb.
- Began as as a response to Germany’s nuclear program.
- Was not used in the European theater, but was instrumental in bringing an end to the War in the Pacific when an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945 and on Nagasaki August 9, 1945.
If your child is visual, she may want to draw a picture to help her remember. If she is an auditory learner, she can record the terms and listen to them as a study strategy.
Initially, she may seem overwhelmed, but encourage her to study a few minutes every day. If she knows even some of the material really well, it will result in better grades. Finally, if possible, review returned tests with your child and talk about strategies for making the best use of her knowledge. From my years of teaching, I have discovered many careless mistakes like skipping questions and not reading the instructions or questions carefully.
What suggestions would you add?