This mega post includes an extensive list of study skills for elementary students!
Do read this entire post! It’s juicy, and I really believe you’ll leave with some gold nuggets to implement in your next lesson!
Vital for academic success, study skills are techniques that facilitate a students’ ability to absorb, organize, comprehend, and retain essential information. These learning strategies are easily differentiable and address a wide range of learning styles.
The idea for this post came to me one day while I was preparing for an exam.
My husband commented how disciplined I was with my study schedule and how organized were my notes.
He mentioned that he wished he could be so thorough when studying information.
I had never thought much about my study habits.
But soon after his comment, a light bulb went off!
This is what I realized…
Somewhere along the way during my early schooling years, someone showed me how to study effectively.
A combination of my parents (thanks mom and dad!), teachers, and even peers influenced my good study habits.
Strong study skills kept me focused on any academic goal I set.
Study Skills for Elementary Students = Life Skills
Don’t you wonder?…
What ever happened to the practical life skills classes that used to be offered in schools?
What happened to home economics, wood shop, and mechanics?
Where are the classes and courses that teach skills that we actually use in our everyday lives?
And can we get a financial literacy class while we’re at it!?
Someone reading this is thinking…
Well, that’s the parents’ job.
And frankly, I agree.
There are a ton of things that today’s schools do that are the “parents’ job” but schools still do them.
So why would offering practical life skills be any different?
I encourage you…
If you’re in a position as a teacher to incorporate study skills into your curriculum, please absolutely do so because I’m here to tell you…
Teaching study skills is a game-changer for your students and directly affects how well they manage their learning in/outside of school.
Learning study skills well positively affects standardized test scores, class assessments, group work (such as literature circles), partner work, and of course homework.
Why Teach Study Skill Strategies in Elementary?
Did you ever have a study skills class in school?
I took study skills as an elective way back in middle school.
Not sure if such a course is still offered in middle and high schools today, but I know for a fact that the explicit teaching of study skills is not the norm in elementary schools.
But I absolutely think it should be!
Some years ago, I did a little experiment.
With all of the information I had gathered about study skills for elementary students, I decided to teach an entire study skills unit to my fourth graders.
We completed about one lesson a day for approximately six weeks.
The students implemented strategies learned ASAP, and some of the study skill techniques overlapped which provided a constant stream of review and practice for the kiddos.
And the results of this six-week study skills unit?…
What a difference it made to teach study skills to my fourth graders!
The study skills unit changed the way my elementary learners approached, tackled, and learned information not only in my class but in any subject.
Grades, class participation, engagement, motivation, and test scores ALL improved!
My kiddos were unstoppable, and I was beyond proud as their teacher!
I know your kiddos are just as amazing, so I’d like to help you give them a boost with this list of study skills for elementary students.
Learning study skills starting in elementary provides a strong foundation to which students can build upon as they move up in grade levels.
This list of study skills for elementary students is useful for school and home.
So let’s dig into it!
List of Study Skills for Elementary Students
Acronyms & Mnemonics
Acronyms and mnemonics are two types of memorization techniques that help students recall word sequences.
Mnemonics help kids remember a list of facts in a particular order. They can be written as songs, phrases, rhymes, phrases, or acronyms.
I’m sure these mnemonics are familiar to you…
My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (order of planets + Pluto)
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (order of operations in math)
On the other hand, acronyms consist of the initials of words in a phrase put together in sequence so that the full name can be remembered more easily.
They are usually written in all CAPS and pronounced as a new word.
Here are some examples: NASA, FACE (music), MLK, and AKA.
When you teach acronyms, try using text writing as examples to help students make connections.
LOL and SMH are two such examples!
We all have one or two (or more?) of those students who quietly sit on the carpet during read-aloud time but are pretty much ZONED-OUT!
They’re quiet, and they may be listening.
But are they actively listening?
This is why it’s important to explicitly teach kids what active listening looks like.
With the overload of distractions in our environments today, this study skill is essential for kids.
Though they take some time to create, rubrics are great assessment tools because they tell students ahead of time how they’ll be assessed.
The beauty in rubrics is that they allow students to go back and review the standards at any time while completing a specific assignment.
Learners continuously measure their performance up against the rubric, adjusting their efforts and productivity as needed.
This indeed is very powerful!
Evaluating ourselves and then tweaking certain elements are normal parts of our work, school, and personal lives.
Rubrics serve as a great transition to reflecting on one’s efforts and influencing the outcome for the better.
As students move up in grade level, the workload increases.
More work causes overwhelm in some students, especially 4th and 5th graders.
To prepare learners for the even greater workload they’ll face in middle school, it’s essential that we teach chunking assignments into digestible parts.
What a practical study skill for elementary students!
Create a Test
When framed from a “I get to be the teacher” standpoint, kids love creating tests for their peers!
When creating a relatively simple assessment from material just learned, students reinforce the concepts to themselves because they’re synthesizing that knowledge to build something purposeful.
When I was a little girl, the kitchen table served as my designated homework space.
I knew that from the time I arrived from school to about an hour afterwards meant study time.
It was a steady routine.
There were no ifs nor buts about it; I got into a study mindset right away, completed my work, and that was that!
The entire classroom space is a designated learning zone. So there’s little challenge there.
But early in the school year, communicate with parents the benefits of their child having a designated study area at home.
And it doesn’t have to be a formal desk or room.
A sturdy lap desk works incredibly well as I use one to this very day for most of my work!
Just something for children to get into the mindset that a particular space is for work and study.
This helps them to focus, and that space becomes a symbol of productivity.
Finding One’s Rhythm
Even after teaching all of these study skills for elementary students, it’s still going to take time for each child to find his or her own rhythm.
Our primary job as educators is to introduce students to all of these study techniques and support them as they navigate towards those that fit their learning style best.
At this point in education, flashcards are a mainstay.
They’re so useful for reviewing vocabulary terms, math facts, history dates ~ just about anything that needs to be memorized.
Flash cards too boring for your kiddos?
Try interactive multiplication tables or quizlet flashcards.
These manipulatives make learning a bit more interesting and engaging!
Let me tell you…
I love grade sheets for grades 4 and up!
Grade sheets keep students accountable for their own work.
Of course as a teacher you’ll keep track of grades, but it’s a powerful thing indeed when students keep track regularly, too!
It does take time for younger students (4th/5th graders) to do the calculations the first few times, but with time, they definitely get it!
Download this math student grade sheet to see if a similar type of grade sheet would work in your classroom.
Graphic organizers are a staple in most classrooms and pair well with almost any assignment.
When developing study skills for elementary students, graphic organizers break down essential ideas into smaller chunks so that the information is a little easier to digest.
I have a love-hate relationship with group work because there’s always that one person in the group who doesn’t want to do much of anything.
But when it’s done well, group work is fantastic because the labor is shared which increases productivity.
Plus, kids get to hear others’ thought processes and ideas.
This stretches their schema and exposes them to alternative points of view.
Have students use highlighters with caution!
These suckers can get out of hand very quickly because you’ve got at least one kiddo, I’m sure, that will highlight an ENTIRE page without much thought (smh).
On the other hand, highlighters are great study tools when you need the main ideas of a selection to “pop out” for elementary students.
As a prerequisite…
Students need a good grasp of how to find the main idea of a piece of text.
Without this skill, a highlighter turns into a fun pen that singles out every.single.point on the page.
Cell phones, TVs, YouTube, the Internet ~ distractions dominate our spaces.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to turn these things off, but there must be times where they aren’t present if students are to get any work done.
Limiting distractions doesn’t mean elimination.
It means just that…limitation.
Ever see adults driving, at the store check-out, at restaurants with others, and on their phones?!
So imagine kids.
They see it all around them and think it’s normal to be “turned on” to tech 24/7.
But there must be a balance, don’t you think?
When reading, we subconsciously make connections…
- How does this relate to something that happened in my life?
- Did I read this in another significant text?
- What does this text have to do with the world at large?
Having these three key questions in mind will help students take their reading comprehension and understanding of concepts to the next level.
Mindset is a buzzword today, but it truly is an important concept to reflect upon.
None of these study skills for elementary students will work if learners don’t have the appropriate mindset.
There are two types of individuals.
Those who say…
I’m going to be successful at this and do whatever it takes (ethically) to get me there.
Yeah. Okay. I’ll do the work when I feel like it or have a lot of time. OR It’s just too hard. I’m done.
Of course we all want those kids who think like the former, but that’s not reality.
That’s when we begin diving deeper into encouraging and mindset exercises specifically designed for kids.
Furthermore, partnering with parents in helping kids develop a positive mindset is a must.
This study skill for elementary students appears to be in direct contact to limiting distractions, but hear me out!
Yes, technology is a BIG distraction.
However, exceptions present themselves in all situations.
Technology can be a wonderful addition to the teaching and learning process, but it depends on how one uses it.
Videos, podcasts, and even apps benefit kids in an educational sense when they serve a genuine purpose.
And that’s key.
How many people take notes and actually go back and read what they recorded?
Not many, right?
Within the right context, though, note-taking improves learning.
Elementary-aged children don’t need too much note-taking practice since the structure of elementary school is more hands-on, interactive, and group focused.
But, there will be times that you want your kiddos to take notes.
For note-taking to be a beneficial study skill for elementary students, it must…
- tie to the gist of what the speaker is saying.
- summarize the main points of the lesson.
- use standard & unique abbreviations (connect to text messaging).
- minimize or eliminate erasures.
What to help your elementary students to learn note-taking but don’t know where to start?
Have them interview staff and/or peers during the first week of school.
This could be part of a building community unit or lesson.
BrainPOP videos also serve as a great resource for practicing note-taking.
Organization streamlines the learning process and eliminates wasting time looking for materials when the time is now to work.
An organized notebook, desk, backpack, workspace, and assignment also shows that one cares about his personal property.
It doesn’t hurt to teach a few organizational skills to students.
I am a huge believer that it takes parents and teachers working together to help the child to the maximum level.
Yes, teachers can be effective working without parent support, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that parent involvement is less important than that of the teacher.
There is no denying the fact that when a parent positively involves herself into her child’s education, the result is generally more fruitful for the child.
So communicate with parents regularly so that they reinforce those study skills at home.
When students need to jot down essential information quickly but aren’t permitted to write in a book, sticky notes to the rescue!
If you really want to know in detail how to use post-it notes to improve reading comprehension of your elementary students, check out this post here.
Helping kids solve problems is part of life.
As long as the material and subject are grade-appropriate, problem solving is a great skill to practical daily.
How can students use the tools and knowledge they already possess to figure out a math problem?
… to figure out the gist of what the author is saying?
…to reflect and retest a hypothesis from a science experiment?
Project-based learning is more of an instructional technique, but it’s a great study skill for elementary students because it gives them an opportunity to put all the skills and strategies they’re learning into authentic practice.
Culminating units are a good time to incorporate project-based learning activities.
During these times, take the opportunity observe how well students are applying certain study skills.
Read, Cover, Remember, Retell
I learned this reading strategy during my first year teaching ESL kids, and I’ve used it ever since because it’s so simple yet effective.
The strategy Read, Cover, Remember, and Retell is helpful to students who struggle to remember the main ideas from a piece of text.
And what I really love about this reading strategy is that you can differentiate with it very easily.
So here’s how the strategy works…
Take a paragraph or any piece of text you’d like the child to read.
After he or she reads the text, he covers it with his hand, thinks about what he just read, and then tells you the teacher (or tells himself) the main points.
If he has trouble retelling, he repeats the process up to 3 times.
After the third unsuccessful attempt, move to an easier text.
This is such a great strategy for improving reading comprehension and understanding concepts in all subjects.
Think about math problem solving…
If a child can’t retell the main points of the story problem and determine what issue needs to be solved, then she’s going to have a really hard time solving that word problem.
That may mean the word problem is a bit too hard for her, so have her tackle an easier one first!
This list of study skills for elementary students wouldn’t be complete without reciprocal teaching!
Reciprocal teaching puts students in the teacher’s seat. They teach a skill or strategy to a partner, small group, or the whole class.
This strategy works well at home, too, for students can teach skills and strategies they’re learning at school to their parents.
This in turn helps their parents see how well they’re absorbing information.
Keep this in mind…
- 10% of what they READ
- 20% of what they HEAR
- 30% of what they SEE
- 50% of what they SEE and HEAR
- 70% of what they SAY and WRITE
- 90% of what they DO.
Check over your work before turning in.
I always said that to students when they worked on class assignments.
Once, after saying this phrase for the 3rd time to a student (who had obviously not looked over his work), I motioned him to sit next to me at the kidney table so that I could see him review his work.
To my surprise, he had NO IDEA what to do.
I had just assumed that he knew what I meant when I said, check over your work.
That’s the problem with assumptions, right?
From that year forward, I vowed to myself to teach my elementary students the essential study skill of checking over work strategically and thoroughly before submitting.
You don’t want kids making errors and getting points taken off for careless mistakes.
Skimming is looking over a text quickly to get the gist of what it’s all about.
Scanning means you’re looking for a particular piece of information within a text.
In a restaurant, we skim/scan the menu.
Booking airline tickets?
You’ll skim to see the average price of tickets.
Got a message ding on your phone?
You’ll scan or skim the message to see who’s calling and/or what they want.
If you decide to teach only a handful of study skills for elementary students, make skimming/scanning one of them!
As you can see, it’s such a practical skill that’s used daily in various contexts.
And when it comes time for standardized testing, scanning and skimming study skills will definitely come in handy.
We’ve all had those students that get squirmy reading or working at their desks for extended periods of time.
It really isn’t natural for kids, even adults, to sit still for too long.
But developing in students healthy amounts of stamina is key to them completing work within an appropriate time frame.
Consequently, they become responsible and independent students!
To ensure that these study skills for elementary students are most effective, it’s best to model to learners first how to use each one that you expect them to use.
- What does this study skill look like in action?
- How doesn’t it look in action?
- When is the best time to use this particular study skill?
Children need to see these study skills in action multiple times before being expected to apply them on their own.
The more you model these study skills, the more comfortable they’ll become using them.
Eventually, students will start to apply them independently without even realizing it.
That’s the ultimate goal!
Explicitly teaching text features using fiction and nonfiction books encourages better comprehension.
These elements serve as signals for how students should approach the reading.
- How do you use an index?
- What’s the purpose of a table of contents?
- Why are some terms in a nonfiction text in bold?
- Subheadings have different fonts than main headings. Why?
- What’s the goal of an epilogue/prologue?
Helping students understand these text features and their purpose will increase understanding of whatever they’re studying no doubt.
For those students who procrastinate with getting assignments done and have a hard time managing time…
Time management is an essential skill that will guide their actions throughout life, not just during school days.
Heck, even some adults still have issues managing time!
Visualizing means to have a picture or series of images in your head as you read a text.
This supports the reader in “being part” of the action.
Consequently, you remember more events from the text!
This study skill for elementary students gets them to tackle multi-step word problems in math and higher levels of reading comprehension.
Wrapping Up: Study Skills for Elementary Students
That was a handful, I know!
But I whole-heartedly believe that these study skills for elementary students are going to be a game-changer for your kiddos’ learning.
Choose a couple of these study skills to focus on each quarter or month, depending on the needs of your students.
Done consistently and well…
You’re going to be pleasantly surprised by how implementing even a few of these study skills positively affects your teaching and learning.
The bar is so high for kids today; we expect so much from them.
So do all you can to equip them with the strategies they need to be successful academically and in life.
Study skills are almost forgotten instructional techniques in elementary schools today, but it doesn’t have to be that way in your classroom.
Happy teaching folks!