PART ONE of Learning Tips to Pass Along and Incorporate With Your Grandchildren During Remote On Line or Part Time Learning and Any Time

SQR4At this time of remote or part time learning, we are all concerned about how much our grandchildren are going to retain.  I hope the two blog posts on my interpretation of learning theory I have found helpful hopefully helps us grandparents help our precious grandchildren.

After having taught elementary and middle school for seven years, I attended law school.  After law school, I was asked to become an adjunct professor in my law school, which I did for eight years thereafter, while practicing family law.  Discovering that law students had little knowledge of learning theory and its impact on study skills, I greeted new students with a lecture on these which I interpreted and adapted from my prior education and experience.  The law school had me present it to the entire first year class and taped it for future classes.  Since then over the years, I present this information to friends and family who are starting law school.

I have been repeatedly told that the tips I gave them made a difference. Having skills is powerful.  We grandparents can empower our grandchildren with some simple learning theory concepts. I am presenting this in two parts, the first part with five experiences and the SQR4 method to commit new material to memory and the second part next week, that knowing how we learn can make better learners and tips on how to accomplish that.

I hope the tips I give you grandparents are those you will find useful to pass along to your grandchildren.  I have not presented the following in one sitting to my children and my grandchildren. Our grandchildren are not law students. I have done it in pieces as appropriate, in tidbits.  Fortunately, we have FaceTime, and when our grandchildren mention something about school, in our discussion, we can share how we want to make their school lives easier. After all, we grandparents always want to make our grandchildren’s lives better.

I will give hints as to when and how we grandparents can be helpful.  Please pass this post along to the parents of your grandchildren.  I would not be surprised if they know that each of us learn in different ways and do much of what the tips say, but do not know why.


In law school, first year students were typically told not to memorize new material.  I told them the opposite, to memorize key words and their definitions, and the reasons why and how to commit new school work to memory.  I presented two of my personal favorite learning theory concepts I interpreted: five experiences and the SQR4 method.  We grandparents can explain the reason behind learning to demystify why we do what we do in school, as I did with the law students. I have presented this to my grandchildren in steps, as their age and school experience has allowed.  You can too.

Ask if the grandchild knows why a teacher introduces new school work as he or she does?  Why does a teacher give homework?  Why does a teacher give tests?

Then you can present the concept of five. We have five fingers on one hand.  Remember five. Learning something new takes five DIFFERENT experiences with the material to commit it to memory, remember it, be able to recall it, and to be able to use it. The teacher uses five experiences in his or her teaching to make it easier to commit material to memory.  (1) The teacher presents the new information, hopefully in a creative and interesting manner, with visuals and expression.  (2) A chapter in the textbook is assigned to read for the author’s viewpoint and homework for evaluation of the material.  (3) Class discussion follows to analyze and connect the ideas.  (4) A quiz or test is assigned for which one must study (another reading with a different purpose) and taken to apply the information. (5) The material is finally reviewed in class as the chapter is concluded to hopefully in new situations, connecting it to what came before and what may come after, to confirm understanding of the ideas or concepts.  The desired result is that the material is then considered learned, and that the child can remember and recall the facts and basic concepts learned, to apply and use them.

By explaining the reasons behind what the teacher does in presenting new material, the ah ha moment is understanding why one should pay attention in class, even if one thinks he or she already knows the answer.  That is why homework has a purpose.  That is why studying has a purpose.  That is why even the exams have a purpose.

Doing the same thing over and over again is only one experience.  Reading material is only one experience, and just rereading alone is still one experience.  That is what our grandchildren just do without concentrating on five.  To create an additional experience from rereading, you just need a different purpose for the reading.  How do you do that?  Remember textbooks have questions at the end of the chapter to answer.  Rereading with the purpose of answering questions, whether made up, or just at the end of the chapter, means rereading is for a different purpose and creates an additional experience. That is why remembering five experiences is important.  All of school is important, not just what one prefers of the five experiences.


I have found that the best answer to getting the five experiences to commit new material to memory is the SQR4 method of reading and studying textbooks. The SQR4 method makes studying easier as it is a way to retain more information as you read. SQR4 stands for survey, question, read, respond, record, and review.

If you have a upper middle school grandchild or a high school grandchild or beyond, after introducing the idea of SQR4, you can hand them this next part to keep for themselves for review.

Think about how we all read a magazine. We look at the cover and read all the headings on the cover before we open the cover.  We then scan the magazine pages to get to an article we are interested in.  We usually read that first. When we get to the page of the interesting article, we read the headings, which tells us what the article is about.  We look at the pictures, skim the article, and go back and read the whole article if we desire.

Then we go back to the table of contents to find another article or just read the rest of the magazine, repeating above.

We don’t think of the table of contents as an outline, but it is.  It is the outline of the magazine contents.  An author who writes a textbook creates the table of contents first, the outline of the book.  The table of contents is typically overlooked by readers, and its value is underestimated.  I always say that one cannot read a chapter without going back to that table of contents each and every time.  The easiest outline to make to study from is a copy of the table of contents kept at one’s side while reading, and writing on it.  So the benefits of the SQR4 method include automatically creating a study outline to study for tests.

The SQR4 method provides its own five experiences in one reading and helps us retain the information to memory faster and easier.  It means less studying for exams. Remember, SQR4 stands for survey, question, read, respond, record, and review.

SURVEY. The survey part of the SQR4 method is using the table of contents to see where the chapter fits into the textbook, what came before and what comes after, as set forth above.  Then go to the chapter heading. Skim through the chapter. Skim the dark print headings and look at the pictures and charts throughout.  Read the first paragraph and the last paragraph and any questions at the end.

QUESTION.  Remember the television game Jeopardy? Every answer must be in the form of a question.  To get the answer to what the chapter is about, turn the title into a question that you will answer by reading the chapter. Turn the subheadings in black print into questions. For example, a chapter on the leaders of the American Revolution would be “Who are the leaders of the American Revolution,” before you start reading.

READ.  Read means read and not skim.  You already skimmed.  It means looking for the answer to the question or questions created.  As you read, IN PENCIL, underline what you think is important, and write notes IN PENCIL, in the margins or do so by RECORD below.

RESPOND. Close the chapter and see if you can recall the answers to the questions.

RECORD.  Go back and highlight what you think is important, color coded as helpful.  If you cannot write in the textbook, skip that part and take notes of what you think is important, or do both anyway if you can write in the textbook.  On your note paper, make a vertical column down the paper 1/3 on left and 2/3 on right.  You put only the headings on the left side (the dark printed parts in the chapter), and headings you may create, such as “definition” to know to go right there, and the page number where the information is found for ease to go back to. You will only have a few things on the left side to start. You write all your notes and answers to questions on the right.  Remember this is your work alone.  The left 1/3 is for summaries, page numbers, what you want to highlight and remember, class notes and what the “right” answers may be to study from.

REVIEW.  Review your notes and answers to questions before class.  While studying for a test, use the printout of the table of contents with the left side of the column.  Use this left hand column, when you are done with the chapter, to help in studying. You create your outline when you write using the copy of the table of contents for your headings.

Yes, have the grandchild practice SQR4 with any magazines or books they are reading.  It becomes a habit, and not a bad one for all of us, especially us grandparents too.

More next week.  Hope we can find a way to participate to make this school year a bit more successful.  Again, pass this along!  The parents of our grandchildren may want it too.






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