Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Teaching Them to Study

Studying may come naturally to some kids, but not the ones in my house.  This is the second time we have reviewed Victus Study Skills System, this time using the Level 3 student level (grades 5/6-10/11) and Level 4 (10/11-college) level.  We were also blessed with their amazing student planner!

Maybe it is just us, but it seems that homeschooling does not lend itself to learning how to study.  Yes, we do have our kids take tests, but it is often treated as simply the next lesson, and we do not have any additional prep for it.  Halfway into my second child's high school career I realized she was lacking in study skills, test taking skills, and quite possibly time management skills.  Sad, but true.  Thankfully we had the opportunity to review Victus Study Skills at that time, and saw huge benefits in the program.  How thankful I am that I have this opportunity again, just as my son is beginning to take college classes.  His younger brother working through the program at the same time has just been a bonus.

The Victus Study Skills System is a series of workbooks at four different levels.  Their goal is simple- to help children learn how to better study.  You choose which level to do based on your child's grade level.  The first two levels for younger children also include teacher guides to help you work through the material with them.  Levels 3 and 4, which we have been using, have a separate Teacher's Guide that can be used with both levels.

In the Teacher's Guide you will find a detailed explanation of the program philosophy, teacher instructions and then lesson overviews.  Each lesson (there are 10 total) states the purpose, preparation and procedure.  If you are being given instructions that correspond with the student workbook, pages are referenced.  Most of the preparation is explanation of instructions, the "whys" of what you are doing, and helping the students fill in some blanks in their workbook.

The Student Workbooks, about 60-70 pages each, are a mix of explanation, motivation, and lessons to be completed.  There are fill-in-the-blanks to be completed, questions to be answered, and charts to be filled out.  As they walk through the lessons, the three Foundational Cornerstones of the program are addressed-
  • Where Am I Now?
  • Where Do I Want to Be?
  • How Do I Get There?
The Where Am I Now? section gets the student to think about their current study habits and to identify their learning strengths.

Where Do I Want to Be? discusses mission by encouraging the student to develop a mission statement for themselves, as well as identify their values and goals.

How Do I Get There? This is the heart of the program, in my opinion.  Here they talk about time management and practice those skills with schedules and calendars.  They also learn about organization, study skills, note taking, and test taking.  There are exercises that teach on these subjects and then allow your child to practice the skill.  For example, they read a paragraph and then take notes on it.

The Appendix is filed with additional information and exercises, enough to make several additional teaching sessions!

How we used this program and what we think-
Because so much of the information presented in the different levels is the same or at least very similar, I decided to run through the lessons with both boys, ages 11 and 17, together.  Honestly that worked for about two lessons.  Then, because of frustration, mostly on the 17 year old's part, we split up and he worked through the Level 4 book on his own.

The frustration with that plan is that I did not get to talk through each lesson with him as he did them independently.  Instead, I had to be very deliberate to assign him a lesson and then engage him in a discussion afterwards.  Here is what I learned-
  • Yes!  He is an auditory learner!  No surprise there.
  • No, he is not good at taking notes.  But he said the practice here helped and he wished he had read it before he took his college English Comp class.
  • Filling out a weekly schedule is much better for him than a monthly calendar.
  • Time management is HARD for teens, but so beneficial.

I think that, despite his original hesitation in doing the program, Salem would admit that he picked up a few skills he was lacking.  He has taken ownership of the Student planner and intends to try using it with his next college class that starts next week!  Each week is a double page spread and can be used for six subjects.  It is not dated which allows you to begin using it whenever.

One fun feature is that at the bottom of every page is a "Who Said That?" quote or an "Odd But True" fact.

While the teacher's edition used with the Level 4 workbook offers a lot of good information and explanation, I do think that at upper high school and college levels, they are more than capable of doing the program on their own.

Colby (my 6th grader) did work through the program with me. We spent about 30 minutes on each lesson and covered one a week.  While I think the information is exceptional, he struggled with the "whys" of what we were doing.  When we talked about creating a mission statement, I got a deer-in-the-headlights looks.  It seems that asking my 11 year old where he sees himself in 10 years is more than he can wrap his head around right now.  I think very goal driven kids can benefit from Victus, but right now all my 11 year old wants to plan in advance for is his summer birthday.

The one section he got the most out of was actually one of the very first exercises about learning styles.  We were not surprised that, like his brother, is an auditory learner, but he did enjoy learning about what that actually meant to him in every day terms.  When asked what three things he could do to improve his habits based on that knowledge he was quickly able to choose.  I did find it funny that one of the things he chose was to ask his teacher (that would be me) of he could do a digital or oral report as an alternative assignment.

Since we wrote in pencil, I am going to try to revisit this program with my son in 8th grade.  By then, I hope his maturity level will have caught up with his academic level and he will benefit more from the skills taught.  Regardless, I highly recommend Victus Study Skills System as a way to help improve your child's study skills.

50 other amazing Crew reviewers had the opportunity to review the different levels of Victus Study Skills System.  You can see their reviews by clicking on the banner below.

K through College Study Skills {Victus Study Skills System Reviews} 
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