Most middle school students who struggle in school do so because they haven't learned study skills in middle school. The good news is that it is never too late to change study habits by learning new skills. The key to learning new study skills is to match technique to your learning style. Let's say you are a well-organized, logical thinker. You like math and science as well as English grammar. Let's also say your teacher insists that you use graphic organizers to make new connections. You have a problem. Graphic organizers are great for visual learners but not so good for logical learners. Logical learners are better off using a well-organized format for studying. Outlining is one strategy that comes to mind.
Why Is This The Case?
Learning styles have a profound impact on the study techniques that work for a student. Learning styles are highly individualized. Not quite as individual as fingerprints but it is clear that the way we learn connects to how we think. I am a linguistic/visual learner. I can outline things that are already written but I cannot put thoughts together by outlining. I have written about my middle school teacher who insisted we outline essays before writing them. This put me at a distinct disadvantage. My brain simply cannot think in such a linear manner.
Learning styles are important to understanding. It is especially important to find out your idiosyncratic learning style. When you do this, you are able to tailor study techniques and skills to meet your needs. There are many 'tests' of learning styles available through Googling 'learning style test.' I suggest that you take three or four of them and then compare the results. You'll get a very good approximation of your learning style.
Now That You Know Your Learning Style, What's Next?
One key to learning to study in middle school and beyond is now yours. Armed with this knowledge, you may begin to look at study skills for their application to your style. In many of our posts dealing with specific study skills, we add suggestions about learning styles. If that information is absent, you may take it to mean the skill is generic to all styles. It may also suggest that the skill may be adapted to any style.
Knowing your learning style gives you a leg up when studying. By that, I simply mean that you are not wasting time trying to put a square peg into a round hole. When learning styles match to study skills, you are working efficiently. When doing so, you are less apt to struggle or become frustrated.
Learning Study Skills in Middle School: Trial and Error
Sometimes, you'll find something that looks like it will be a fantastic study aid. Great! Do not, however, fall in love with the study skill until you have given it a trial run. To figure out whether a skill works well for you or not, you need to give it a chance to succeed. I suggest a small trial period of three to four weeks. This gives you enough time to get over the bumps of working with a new skill. It also provides enough time to make it clear if the skill suits you or not. If you try something for a day or two you have not given it a fair shake. It may turn out to be the best thing you have ever found but you'll never know if you quit too early.