Students taking notes

Let’s Teach Our Kids How to Take Down Notes!

Jotting down notes for class seems such a menial task to do, but there are countless ways to make it effective. Before we get into the different techniques that we can teach our kids on note-taking, let us break down what goes into taking down notes first.

What factors can affect note-taking? 

  • First, students must be active listeners and multi-taskers. They know that while the information on the board is important, those that their teachers are saying are also significant. At the same time, when the teacher posits a question, they must be aware enough to raise their hand and answer, especially if they know the question.
  • Second, students must know how to differentiate information between the useful and the unnecessary. Each class usually follows a lesson plan, sort of like an agenda, but some teachers tend to be tangential.
  • And lastly, you would have to write everything really fast.

Whether you are in one of the private international schools in Singapore or a fast-paced University in the UK, the note-taking experience is the same for all students. So to help them, let’s teach our kids these tried and tested note-taking techniques. 

Create a visual representation of each lesson 

There are students who prefer visuals rather than text. If your child is the visual kind, you can tell them to draw their notes instead of summarising them.  

Drawing does not mean cartoons, per se, although they can create doodles or comics related to their lesson. They can also draw up concept webs that they can add to as the lesson progresses. 

Shorthand system 

students taking notes

There are phonetic shorthand styles created by Gregg or Pittman, but the most effective shorthand system is one made by our kids instead. Let’s help them create their own writing system by looking at the common words or phrases used for a specific subject throughout the semester. You can both assign shortcuts and symbols for each of these.  

For example, you can ifffor statements with “if and only if” – a shortcut used mostly in Math, but you can use for other subjects. You can also use shapes, for instance, a triangle can be used for “therefore” statements. 

The reason for encouraging them to create their own system is so that they can memorise it easily rather than learning a whole new system. 

The Cornell method 

This is a classic note-taking method that requires students to divide their notebook into two: the notes side on the right and the keywords side on the left. 

The keywords side is a smaller column, and this is where students should write important words and phrases. The notes side contains elaborations or explanations that are related to the words and phrases on the keywords side. Because lessons usually progress and more concepts are being introduced related to previous terms, tell your kids that they can be as messy as they want to be. 

But a third section, right at the bottom, should include a summary of all the notes written for the specific lesson. It is important they only do it one chapter at a time so they can organise their notes properly.  

We hear stories of high school and college students finding ways to effectively write down notes and share it with their classmates. These techniques will help build a foundation on their note-taking and teach them to filter the information that they are getting from every lecture.

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