student note taking

Take Note: Good Note-Taking Skills a Must for Student Success

Note-taking skills are a must, when it comes to your student’s education, but taking good notes, alone, isn’t a guarantee for success. Moreover, the good habits formed through gaining note-taking skills are more important than the actual note-taking. So how can you help your child achieve these vital skills? Help your student develop a note-taking system that makes sense and encourages regular use.

Whether students listen to lectures or read textbooks, deciphering the difference between a main idea and supporting ideas is crucial. Helping your child understand and organize this difference is the first must toward structuring notes in a way that makes sense and represents each topic well. A traditional outline can be useful, yet some students benefit more from visual interpretations, such as a bubble web or sketchnoting. Allow your student to practice different ways of note-taking to find out what works best. The key is finding a method that allows your child to take usable notes quickly enough to still listen to the lecture.

As your student and you work to find and hone that “make sense” system—you’ll want to review notes together. Do the notes allow for an accurate retrace of the steps through a lecture or textbook? Do they make sense? Or do they leave your child confused? For example, shorthand is great, but only if your student can read it later. Similarly, sketchnoting can help your student’s creative juices flow, but only if sketching didn’t detract from copying down other important information. Remember, notes are only as good as your student’s ability to use them to reenforce learning—so encourage your student’s quest for the note-taking system that works best.

To make note-taking even more successful, encourage your child to prepare for classes ahead of time. Reading a chapter in advance of a class, for example, means your student will take notes while absorbing the material for the second time. Moreover, it helps students identify what is most important in the lesson, as teachers generally cover the highlights in each lesson.

Moving forward, your student should review notes regularly—especially right after taking them. If there is a gap, your student can either fill it in while the material is still fresh or quickly ask the teacher or another student to clarify what was said. The more often students read through their notes, the more learned subjects become—and the less cramming students will need to do before tests.

One last point, good note-taking skills not only help students learn and better engage with class materials, but also reenforce their self-confidence and leadership skills—notably, they gain the ability to help fellow classmates learn. And as the saying goes, learning culminates when the student becomes the master.