For many students, preparing for a test is a discrete task often begun with only a few hours to spare. A better approach — one that’s particularly beneficial for children with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) and learning disabilities – is to see test preparation as a process lasting several weeks.
Taking good class notes, reading to comprehend and retain, and planning a schedule of review when a test is first announced — these are the keys to earning great grades for ADHD children.
Find a note-taking style
For a student with ADHD, taking notes is a chance to translate the material being taught into a format that allows her to learn. Most teachers present information in A-B-C order, yet ADDers think in concepts, images, and networks of connected ideas. They may write down every word a teacher says, yet miss important points or themes.
Encourage your child to experiment with several different in-class note-taking techniques, such as outlines, charts, diagrams, lists, or drawings — and to use a combination that best suits her learning style.
To develop good note-taking skills, your child should sit near the front of the classroom, away from friends and other distractions. As the teacher speaks, the child should ask herself: “Is this important? Could it be on a test?” Later, if she’s not sure she has captured all of the important information, she can ask the teacher to look over her notes.
Review notes daily
To help your child stay on top of what he’s learned in class—and avoid needing to relearn large amounts of material for a test—have him set aside a specific time each day to review his notes. This should be an opportunity to complete sentence fragments, clarify points, or add memory-jogging associations. Or he may want to transfer hastily written notes into a format he likes better. As he reviews, he should ask himself:
- Can I find key information quickly? Do the important points leap off the page?
- Does my material follow a logical progression and remind me of the lecture?
- Can I stay focused on my notes—or do they make me zone out?
If your child is an auditory learner, she should read her notes into a tape-recorder and listen to them on headphones.
Read to retain
By the time your child reaches middle school, she’s probably reading several chapters a day for homework—and much of that information will show up on a test. To avoid rereading everything, she’ll need effective reading habits.
Begin by setting up a reading routine. Have her figure out where, when, and how she works best. Is she more comfortable sitting at a desk or lying on the bed? Does she prefer reading before school or before bedtime? Should the radio be on or off?
She should tackle the most difficult material while she’s fresh. Offer a colorful sticky note reminding her to “stay focused!” She can move it from page to page, to keep it in sight—and later use it as a bookmark.
ADDers need frequent breaks to relax and recharge. Set a timer to signal both her reading time and her breaks.
To help her absorb material—and to create study tools she can use if needed—suggest that she take notes and make flashcards as she goes along. Auditory learners can record important information in a question-and-answer format, to create “auditory flashcards” that can be used for review.
Encourage your child to keep an “I don’t know” sheet, listing anything she’d like to check with the teacher.
This article comes from the October/November 2006 issue of ADDitude.