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Learning How to Learn

With the new school year looming, students of any age can benefit from learning how to study more effectively.  Rather than bringing up the subject of study habits as a lecture, entice your kids with the promise that they will save time and achieve better results if they learn to use their brain better!

Here are some study suggestions for children and adults alike:

  • Choose a designated quiet place to study. If you like to listen to music, then choose music that has no lyrics to distract you.
  • Never study in bed, as it will slow down your reading time and interfere with your sleep associations as well.
  • Have you ever noticed that when you go on a road trip to a new destination, the trip home always feels quicker?  That is because you recognize familiar landmarks along the way and can chart the progress you are making this way.  The same thing goes for studying!  If you are reading a chapter of new material, then before you begin a thorough read, skim through the entire chapter, noting the headings and sub headings and asking yourself questions about what it may mean.  This will cue your brain to recognize the landmarks and help to engage you in a more active way!
  • Study the toughest subject first when you have the most energy for the task
  • Take short breaks. We remember the first and last items of a list most easily. This is called the Primacy-Recency Effect.  If we take breaks, then we have more first and last items to remember and will retain more information!
  • Read key points out loud and use memory techniques such as mnemonics to jog your memory.
  • Quickly reviewing your class notes after class and the next day will really assist you in moving the material from your short term memory into your long term memory.  This way you will have less cramming to do before tests, a lower stress level and more enjoyable learning experience!


Further Resources:

Dr. Judy Willis has wonderful articles and tips to share about the neurology of learning. is an excellent resource for those who have attention and learning issues:

Wishing you a wonderful new academic year of exciting learning!!


Katherine Jarrell RSW, MSW, is trained in many areas including anxiety, depression, and parenting concerns, plus many more. Her expertise is drawn from her experiences from working at AHS, EAP Programs, FCSS in Fort McMurray, and with the CNIB.  For more information on Katherine and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.