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How to Study Using the Folded Paper Method

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This is a guest post by Angela Norton Tyler, of Family Homework Answers. Angela is a teacher and parent from the Sacramento, California area. She has been a classroom teacher, an elementary school reading specialist, and has taught courses at the college level. With a special focus on helping parents help their children become better students, Angela has put her energies into teaching parents how to improve the homework and reading skills of their children. In 2005, Angela published Tutor Your Child to Reading Success, and now conducts seminars about reading and homework for parents and teachers all over the west coast of the United States. She also publishes Family Homework Answers, a site "devoted to helping parents and their children deal with homework."

One of the great mysteries of the educational universe is why students aren't taught how to study. I was lucky enough to be shown the Folded Paper Method in the 8th grade, and I have been using it ever since! Not only does it work for nearly any subject, it is super-easy and portable. It is one of my favorite study methods, and I share it with both my students and my two children.

  1. Show your child how to fold a regular piece of lined binder paper in half the long way (hot dog style).

  2. In the left column, have them write the words, theories, ideas or formulas they are studying for a test, quiz or exam.

  3. In the right column, they write down definitions.

  4. They study by keeping the paper folded and flipping it back and forth between each word on the left and its definition on the right. Tell your child to think of the folded paper as a bunch of attached flash cards.

  5. A student can test himself by looking at the words and trying to repeat the definitions- without looking!

  6. Next, they should look at the definitions and try to recall the words.

  7. When they are confident that they know the words and definitions, your child should give the paper to someone (you!) and ask to be quizzed.

  8. Encourage your child to start this process a few days before a test. So, after they finish their regular homework, they can study for a half an hour or so. Teach them not to wait until the last minute and try to cram everything into their heads. Put a little information in each night, and it will stick!

  9. Tell your child to review their notes right before the test. It's great to read the words and definitions out loud one last time.

  10. Last tip- take a deep breath! They are ready to ace the test!

How simple (and non-tech) is the Folded Paper Method? Remember, by studying a little each night, your child will develop good study habits, feel relaxed, confident and prepared for tests, and still have time for a life outside of studying!
Tagged in: Homework


#2 tina steptoe 2009-02-19 21:34
I have a eight and six year old. My eight year old does well but really does not like to study on her own. I have to help her and try to make it fun... I encourage her that she can spell, read, or even do her math because I know she can do it. I have introduced the folded paper method and it has made a difference in her spelling. Now just getting her to read better aloud is my task, she has trouble pronouncing words at times... other than that she does well. I plan on introducing the method to my six year old who really enjoys school, but not homework! Thanks alot!!
#1 Eileen Serpico 2009-02-19 12:22
I have three children (11, 10 & 7) all of which hate school. I'm not sure how to get them to appreciate it. My 11 year old son and 10 year old daughter both tell me they do their homework in school. When I check their grades on line they are usually D's or F's on the pages that were supposedly done in school. They are both having a hard time with math and I know math is taught differently then when I was a child. Please help

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?