First step to better grades: turn off TV, expert says

Jason Hewlett

February 18, 2013

Turn off the TV, ask questions and set goals. These are just a few of the tips a learning specialist offered parents and students during a lecture at Henry Grube Education Centre.

"A lot of students have great study skills but they don't put it together into a strategy," said lecturer Terry Small.

Small, who travels extensively and shares his study strategies with everyone from elementary students to heads of corporations, spoke to 100 people at Henry Grube on Saturday morning.

Catching up with The Daily News afterward, Small revealed easy but effective strategies to help kids achieve better grades.

He likened studying to playing hockey, saying every player knows how to handle a stick, check and pass. It's how these skills are used during a game that makes all the difference.

"How the players use that in real time during the game, to play the game efficiently as a unit, those skills support the strategy," he said.

By looking at what students are doing or not doing and filling in the gaps with other skills, boys and girls will perform better in school, said Small.

Some of Small's tips are practical - to study better, students should turn off distractions like TV and Facebook and focus on what they are doing. But he said playing baroque music softly in the background will stimulate the brain and promote better learning.

Small said it's important to be active while studying. Don't just read notes, read them out loud. Use a coloured pen to highlight different points or write out key words to remember.

On a three-by-five card, write a question on one side and put the answer on the other, he said. Read the question out loud, and then say the answer aloud before flipping the card over.

"Repetition continues to be a good way to store information," said Small, adding the cards should be used over and over until students are confident they know the material.

Another helpful exercise is to create a report card with the grades the student would like to achieve in each subject written on a sheet of paper. He said copies should be placed all over the home, and used to cover answers to question while studying.

Small said the report card acts as advertising, and eventually fixes in students their scholastic goal.