“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” —John Dryden
Hi ladies! It’s time to gear up and get ready for a brand new school year! “Back-to-school” season is in full swing! So it’s time to get new clothes, new pencils, and a new schedule! While I can’t take you shopping, I can help you prepare for the school year in a different way. Let’s be honest, a new year can be exciting, stressful, and just about everything in between. Fortunately, my major in college (neuroscience) taught me a few things about how to learn. So, here are the five “R’s” that make academia a little easier for your brain.
The best way to memorization is repetition. When we hear the same facts over and over, we strengthen our neural pathways, making it easier and easier to recall the information. Rather than re-reading your notes five times, try incorporating the following in your routines:
Step 1: Read – When your teachers give an assigned reading, read the material before class. It gives you the opportunity to build those first neural pathways.
Step 2: Listen/ Take Notes – In class, take notes and listen to the lesson. You will start to recognize the material you read before and better understand the points and concepts. You will also get an idea of what your teacher thinks is important. You should probably put a star next to facts she/he repeats more than once. Listening and taking notes gives additional structure to the neural pathways you built while reading.
Step 3: Review – Doing homework, practicing problems, and creating flash cards are all a part of the final steps in strengthening those pathways in your brain. The more you review, the faster your recall of facts and processes.
While some subjects require extra time in one or all of the above steps, don’t skip one! Your brain and social life will thank you come test time!
It may be hard getting used to study habits and classes. But don’t things get easier once they are a part of your routine? It takes about a month to form new habits. Add reviewing coursework to your routine for a month. Not only will it make it easier to fit study time into your schedule later, but it keeps your mind sharp. An active mind works faster and with greater accuracy.
When tests are approaching, start a study group! Studying with friends makes the subject more enjoyable, right? As classes become difficult or test imminent, consider a study buddy. A study buddy should be someone with whom you mutually teach, quiz, and motivate each other.
Based on a study in 2011, the average person takes in about 174 newspapers’ worth of information a day. We truly live in the age of information overload! Since all of this information needs to be processed and stored, we can mentally feel overwhelmed, especially as we are learning new material throughout the school year. To minimize mental fatigue and allow your brain time to do its job, take breaks. Research has shown that taking breaks is better for your learning. A good method to follow is to take a 10-minute break every 50 minutes of learning. Why do you think most classes are 50 minutes long with a 10-minute break to walk to class? School systems know this about your brain, too. So take advantage and add breaks to your study time.
The last and final bit of the “R” habits is “reward.” When you’ve passed a test or finished a project, treat yourself! One of my favorite rewards was when my friends and I had a pool party after we took the AP World History exam. At the time we didn’t know the outcome, but we rewarded ourselves for the hard work we put into the class and national test. Positive reinforcement is a miracle worker when it comes to desired behaviors and outcomes. You are more likely to continue your habits if (1) they pay off and (2) you reward yourself for your accomplishments. The only reward you should avoid is extended time off of your study schedule, unless it’s summer time!
My challenge to you is to start at least one good habit this school year. You can give one of the five “R’s” a try if your goal is to improve in academics. But don’t limit yourself there! Since all habits take time, give yourself a chance to adjust. Keep in mind that results are not immediate.
Let’s all start the school year off with more than new shoes and classes. Let’s start the school year with some great new habits!
Posted by Rhea