“Back-to-school” season is in full swing, and I think it’s time to revive an old post. While you’re shopping for a “first-day” outfit and ordering essentials on Amazon, take a moment to add these habits to your cart!
5 R’s to Make School Easier for Your Brain
Memorization follows repetition. When we hear the same facts over and over, we strengthen neural pathways in our brain which makes it easier to recall information. Rather than re-reading your notes five times, try these three steps:
Step 1: Read – When your teachers give an assigned reading, read the material before class. It gives you the opportunity to build those first neural pathways.
Step 2: Listen/ Take Notes – In class, take notes and listen to the lesson. You will start to recognize the material you read before and better understand the points and concepts. You will also get an idea of what your teacher thinks is important. You should probably put a star next to facts she/he repeats more than once. Listening and taking notes gives additional structure to the neural pathways you built while reading.
Step 3: Review – Doing homework, practicing problems, and creating flash cards are all a part of the final steps in strengthening those pathways in your brain. The more you review, the faster your recall of facts and processes.
While some subjects require extra time in one or all of the above steps, don’t skip one! Your brain and social life will thank you come test time!
New study habits and classes can be tricky to organize, but aren’t things easier when they are part of your daily routine? The un-fun truth is that it takes approximately a month to form new habits. For a month, add reviewing coursework to your daily schedule. It can be before class or after TV time with your roommates. Not only will it make it easier to find time to study, but it keeps your mind sharp. An active mind works faster and with greater accuracy.
Before test time, start a study group! Studying with friends makes the subject more enjoyable, #amiright. As classes become difficult, consider a study buddy. A study buddy should be someone with whom you mutually teach, quiz, and motivate.
Fact: The average person takes in about 174 newspapers’ worth of information a day. Wow, we truly live in the age of information! Since all of this information needs to be processed, we can become overwhelmed. Remedy: To minimize mental fatigue, take breaks. Research has shown that taking breaks is better for your learning and memory. A good rule to follow is to take a 10-minute break every 50 minutes of learning. Why do you think most classes are 50 minutes long with a 10-minute break to walk to class? School systems know this about your brain, too. So take advantage of what we do know, and add breaks to your study time.
When you’ve passed a test or finished a project, treat yourself! Positive reinforcement is a miracle worker when it comes to desired behaviors and outcomes. You are more likely to continue your habits if (1) they pay off and (2) you reward yourself for your accomplishments. The only reward you should avoid is extended time off your study schedule, unless it’s summer time!
Add at least one of the five “R’s” to your cart, but don’t limit yourself there! Since all habits take time, give you and your brain a chance to get use to what’s new.
Enjoy the new school year!