Using Strategies to Help Learn


Learning is a lifelong journey. Think about something you have just learned:



How did you go about it? Did you attend a lecture? Did you use trial and error? Did you read and take notes? Did you ask a friend?


These are all strategies for learning or ways we all use to accomplish a task we need to do.


In school, children learn not only facts but also strategies for learning, which are plans learners use to accomplish specific goals in specific learning situations. Parents can support school instruction by helping children use these strategies at home. Children are learning what learning strategies are, how to use them, and when to use them. There are different strategies for different tasks. Which strategy to use depends on what you are trying to learn or to do. Reading a novel may start with reading the first page; checking a telephone number in a directory does not. Practice in using learning strategies and solving problems helps children become responsible for their own learning.


What are some of these learning strategies?


  1. Using background knowledge


Learners try to build a bridge between what they are studying and what they already know or have experienced or learned. Help your child connect to his or her experiences with whatís being studied. Examples might include:


  1. K-W-L-S

    K = what I know

    W = what I want to find out

    L = what did I learn

    S = what do I still need to know or learn


    If your child is just learning this four-step strategy, you may want to help your child by asking these questions and helping to write down his or her answers. Before your child studies a topic, ask, "What do you know about this topic and what do you want to find out?" After your child has studied the topic, ask, "What did you learn and what do you still need to know or learn?" Soon, your child should be able to use this strategy without prompting to read unfamiliar material, to do an experiment, or to study for a test.


  3. "Unpack" you thinking


Have your child stop reading occasionally and consider, "What am I thinking? What made me think that? What conclusions can I draw? How does this fit with what Iíve already read or learned?" You may reinforce this strategy by asking these questions of your child until he or she has learned to ask them almost automatically as he or she reads.


These are just some of the strategies for learning children are being taught. Check out "More Strategies for Learning" for additional strategies.


For more information on how your child is doing in school and how you can help, contact your childís teacher.