Saturday, February 21, 2009


How to Read Text Book

A clear strategic approach to textbook reading will help any student get more out of the books they are using in school.

A student needs to have objectives and a plan for reaching them. Too often kids get through their school day just going through the motions, keeping the teacher ( and mom and dad) off their back. A student with an awareness of why they're in school is more likely to participate willingly in his own education. If the grown-ups around the student care enough to show learning techniques, then follow up on the use of those techniques, the student will be more likely to see some value in it. Having that awareness is the first step towards success.

Reading a text book may seem as simple as just keeping up with the assigned reading, but a clear strategic approach will help any student get more out of their school books. Here are four steps your child can take when reading and taking notes from his text books.


The overview gets the student focused on the topic. It's a refresher of what they've already learned and a glance at what the child is about to discover. The overview consists of reading the breakdown of the chapter. Your child should look at the title and headings, then read any front matter, such as a preface, or back matter, like a summary or an appendix. A glance at the index is a good idea because it pulls out specific terms your student will encounter in the reading. Next the student should look at the graphs, tables and illustrations in the chapter. An overview helps your student get her bearings.


Having questions in mind at the outset is important for your child's understanding of new material. They help the reader stay focused and provide a sense of purpose. One approach is to formulate questions based on the chapter headings encountered in the overview. Your child can then read the section in search of an answer to his question. For example, if the heading is 'General Grant's plan of attack,' the question might be 'What are the three main points in General Grant's plan of attack?'


With the specific question in place, reading becomes a search for information, more like an investigation. The questions will change as the reading continues. New questions may arise. Tracking the twists and turns of the information stimulates active reading and that's the key.

Take Notes

Keeping a notebook is crucial. Your student should write down all the questions and their answers as they progress through the material. At the end they'll have a useful, ordered chronicle of his interaction with the textbook that will serve as a vital study aid at test time.

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