Middle School Study Skills

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Middle-schoolers looking to break out of a rut and start achieving better grades are best served by first taking inventory of their study skills. Once you know what skills you've already mastered, it's far easier to pinpoint those that need work. There's no shame in having weaknesses, for all students have some. The problem, instead, is continuing on without assessing what they are and how to shore them up.

Reading comprehension, writing, note taking, concentration, testing, and time management are just a few of the most common areas in which middle schoolers struggle. Problems in these areas certainly do not indicate failures on behalf of parents and teachers. Rather, they indicate that the nature of assignments and course material is fundamentally changing and becoming more critical and analytical.

The Changing Winds of Education

The fourth and fifth grades mark a turning of the tides for many students. No longer are assignments meant solely to test the retention of basic concepts and concrete facts such as names and dates. Instead, students are now called upon to manipulate information, compare and contrast, think of problems in alternative ways, and start formulating arguments. For students who have never done this, the task can be a formidable one indeed.

This is the moment for students to begin their critical educations. Namely, this means students should approach new ideas in an open-minded way yet still reserve enough skepticism to challenge strange or unusual notions. Additionally, students at the middle-school level must be encouraged to ask questions, no matter how silly or basic they may be. The combination of doubt, curiosity, and intellectual honesty form the underpinnings of a great education and will continue to serve students not only in high school and college, but in at the world at large. Since this is an emotionally sensitive time in a student's life, focusing on study skills at home or through direct instruction can be a great way of helping students overcome their educational insecurities.

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