School Tool: Review, Review, Review

This one crucial strategy can help your child catch errors, cement her understanding, and succeed in the new school year.
Success at School | posted by Beth Guadagni

Reviewing asks, “Did I come up with the right plan? How can I tell?”

Beth Guadagni

In my first post, I discussed the strategy of “previewing” to develop a concrete plan to combat specific challenges your child may face during the new school year. The sister strategy is reviewing. With reviewing, you monitor to make sure that the strategy is helping your child succeed. If the preview process means asking “What might be tough about this and what can I do to make it easier?” reviewing asks, “Did I come up with the right plan? How can I tell?”

Reviewing often works best with hard facts to be sure your impressions are accurate. Think about this in the context of your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. You can get a good sense of what needs to be in it by reviewing your child’s experiences over the last year.

Ask your child for her input and interview her teacher and tutor as well. Consider whether each component of the plan was appropriate and be prepared to justify your stance with specific examples from the year. This kind of reviewing, especially if you encourage other adults involved in your child's education to do it, can be an effective tool to prepare for an upcoming IEP meeting.

Encourage your child to use the review strategy for her classwork. Although she may need some help from you initially, with practice, she should be able to take over the process herself. Reviewing gives her the tools to catch her own errors before her teacher does.

Reviewing can help her reduce the small mistakes she makes in math, for example, a common symptom among students with specific types of attention problems. These are often called “careless errors,” a term that should be avoided. Kids with weak attention often care a lot. Their cognitive profile makes it difficult for them to avoid these small mistakes.

Say you want to target errors in word problems. Establish a system that will prompt her to check each problem's answer to be sure it is reasonable before she moves on to the next problem. An effective strategy might be to underline the question at the end of each word problem ("How much money will Ryan need to buy enough hot dogs for the class picnic?"), then have her place a check mark next to her answer after she has made sure that it is reasonable. If, when she goes to place the check mark, she sees that her answer is $2.050, she knows that she has probably misplaced the decimal point. If the answer is $2,050, she either forgot about the decimal point or miscalculated; that's a lot of money to spend on hot dogs.

Data-driven review can be great for making incremental progress visible. Impulsive children may find it difficult to stick with a new strategy if they feel that they are not improving, but careful review gives encouragement.

Say that your child has difficulty with spelling tests. Together, you preview by thinking about why the tests are so challenging for her and develop a new study plan that addresses the particular difficulty. Create a chart for recording the number of errors she makes on her spelling tests and write in the numbers from a few old tests in the first few columns. Then, use a different color for the tests she used the new strategy to study for.

If the number does not decrease much after two or three trials, you need to come up with something different. But if your review chart shows that the numbers are slowly but steadily dropping, it's time to celebrate. Your reviewing has showed that you've hit on a winning strategy.

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