Three Steps for Good Note Taking

Taking good notes in class is a key factor in educational success. It's an extension and an advancement of the attention skills a child should acquire in the lower grades.

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Taking good notes in class is a key factor in educational success. It's an extension and an advancement of the attention skills a child should acquire in the lower grades. Following instructions, listening to assignments and even art projects all require taking mental notes. As a child grows, taking notes on new material becomes an increasingly more important role in the day to day classroom activities. Over time, with help from his teacher, a student should begin to undersand what to write down. Having a clear idea of the reason for taking notes, as well as a clear understanding of how to do it are indispensable tools for succeeding in school and beyond.

Note taking can be broken down into three steps: preparation, exectution and review. There are certain things a student can do before class to get ready for note taking, during class to effectively take notes and after class to follow up on what has been covered by utilizing the notes he's taken.

Getting Ready

A quick review of notes from the previous class is a great way to start. Remembering where the teacher left off will help your student pick up the threads of the new material he's about to discover. It's important that he get his assigned reading done before class so that he'll have the necessary grasp of the material the teacher is counting on to build his presentation. Getting the materials together, having it all ready on the desk is key.

Taking Notes

Focus is crucial. A child who pays attention will learn faster and more fully and he will retain the information during the transition from classwork to homework. Students should be made aware of the 'signal statements,' a teacher uses, like 'Now, remember...' or 'It's important to note that...' Anything the teacher writes on the blackboard is worth writing in the notebook. A student will need to write quickly and eventually develop a personal shorthand, utilizing arrows and bullets that simplify information into easier to read segments. Also, indicating questions, or places in the lesson where he may have lost track is a crucial skill to filling knowledge gaps and succeeding in future homework and other assignements.


It is additional work, but encourage your child to rewrite notes after class. It's a great way to review and it will help him remember any questions he may have had. If there is some problem or misunderstanding, his chances of catching it are much greater. Rewriting notes also presents the opportunity to make more complete explanations and brush up the accuracy of ideas that had to be taken down quickly. It's also a great time to break out the dictionary or text book to look up details, or to consult with other students on their understanding of a given point.

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