Learning to take notes is often a point of contention between homeschooling mothers and teens. Mom is convinced the student must learn to take copious notes to survive in college. The student is convinced they are intellectually superior and do not need to stoop to such measures.
The truth is found somewhere in the middle.
And, the type of classes your child will be in will also determine what kind of notes they need to take. Let’s look at some of them:
Computer Science – often CS profs have PowerPoint presentations for every lecture and these are available online to the student. If this is the case, the only things to jot down are important lecture tidbits that don’t show up on the screen.
Math – even in a tech savvy world, many mathematicians still use the blackboard to demonstrate mathematical problems and their solutions. This is a no-brainer. Copy the blackboard. One enterprising student took pictures of all blackboard presentations on his iPhone to record the solutions! Other classes are not so linear and need a different approach.
Humanities – for these classes, students often need to take notes. While some professors will allow students to do so on their computer, which allows the student to record more, others are adamant that no computers will be open during class. If taking notes by hand, kids must learn to listen and distill salient points quickly. While some professors are very organized and notes are an easy outline, others are impossibly disorganized and recording things is extremely difficult.
Bright students must remember that professors lecture for a reason. They cover things that cannot be found in the textbook and lectures are often quite different than the assigned reading. Students will attend from 12-15 hours of class a week and they will be responsible for all that material at the end of a semester. Unless a student has a photographic memory, it is wise to learn early how to capture the treasure trove of information being presented. And, mom is correct that most kids remember the material better if they physically interact with it.
So, how does a student learn to take notes?
My kids’ first note taking happened at church. They watched me takes notes on the pastor’s sermon and followed suit when they were old enough to be interested in the topics. Then their note taking reached an art form when they became involved in debate and had to think and record quickly.
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