Note-taking doesn’t come easily to all children, so is it a skill they need to have?
Yes, I think it is.
As our children get older and start doing more research for the topic they are doing, they will need to read the vast amounts of text and pick out what they need from it. If they needed to copy out sentence by sentence it would be a long and laborious task. It would also be considered plagiarism. Nobody wants to just copy someone's thoughts and writing word for word. They want to make writing their own. Taking notes will help them organise what they are reading and retain the information a lot more.
There are ways to learn this valuable skill. So, how do you start to teach children to take notes?
Notes can be used to record important bits of information so that they can be filled out later. Writing down information helps the transfer of that information into long-term memory. It also provides children with a chance to examine the text at a far deeper level.
Note-taking also strengthens sound-letter mapping and spelling skills.
Making notes while reading can aid with comprehension. It also can help to remember a sequence of events in the text.
But does it all have to be sentences?
NO - note-taking is just about taking down the key information.
It can be single words, a phrase or even a drawing.
There is more than one way to take notes, and like everything, it needs to be developed.
For some children that have problems with writing, note-taking can prove to be a challenge. They might find the whole process slow and difficult. But not all notes have to be written sentences.
- Bullet points are a very good way of recording one or two important keywords.
To introduce the idea, read through a paragraph of text together. Highlight the information in the text. Now ask them to draw a bullet point at the edge of the page and write the highlighted word or phrase down. (this is very important is you need to record dates or names of people from the text). Ask them to write another bullet point under the first and write down the next piece of important information.
- Mindmaps can be a great way to record information.
Write the title of the work in the middle of the page with a nice big cloud around it. Read through the text together. For example - here is a simple mind map that you might make after finding out about mummies. It has important keywords and the process of embalming. This will be enough for them to start some sentences of their own.
- Separate main ideas from the rest of the text on paper. Make a photocopy of the text you are looking at. Highlighting, colour coding, underlining, and using punctuation and large size or capital letters, are effective ways to signal different kinds of information.
- Separate main ideas from the rest of the text on the computer.
A good skill to teach your children as early as they are able is to have two programs open side by side on the computer.
On one half of the screen, they can be reading the text from the internet. On the other side, they can have open a word program.
When they find words or phrases that are important they need to be able to highlight the text - right click on the mouse to copy it - go over to the word program and right-click again to paste the text.
Learning how to copy and paste text will become more and more important as they become more familiar with using the computer, not just for not-taking.
Just help them find the best way for them. Different task might need different way of taking notes. Whatever they can do to help them remember the text or the video they are watching.
The next important thing is to make some short sentences from the notes they have taken as soon as possible. Treat this as their draft copy and do not worry too much about spellings and punctuation.
Now they are ready to write/type their work out. I know it seems like a long process, but the process helps to ingrain the learning. Remember, if they have trouble with writing - then help them with this part. Share the writing. Record what they dictate to you.
And hard as it might seem - make it fun.