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Successful Study Habits: How To Highlight Effectively

Highlighting can be a great study strategy, especially in the early stages of learning. (It is limited, of course, to worksheets or books students own.) It can help you find information later to review it or make study cards for in-depth study.

Most people think highlighting is easy. However, I have seen many students who don’t understand why they highlight. They also don’t know how. Sometimes, these students highlight almost everything on the page, which defeats the purpose.

If your child does this, here are some steps to take to help him learn how to highlight in a purposeful and meaningful way. 

Discuss the following with him:


  • Why do we highlight? Lead him to understand that highlighting makes it easy to find the most important information later when he needs it to study. If too much of the page is highlighted, it is not easier to find something. It might even make it more difficult. Highlighting needs to be used carefully and purposefully.


  • What information is important? Discuss possibilities such as names of new characters in a fiction book, new vocabulary words, or a brand new concept that seems important. Highlighting can also help when learning how to do a difficult concept like using negative numbers in math. Many students highlight the negative signs when doing algebra because they are important and easy to overlook.


Once your child understands what highlighting is for, the next step is to practice highlighting something specific. For example, when reading a literature book he could highlight the name of new characters introduced in the chapter. Or in a science textbook, he could highlight the vocabulary words (just the word because the definition will probably be nearby). He could highlight key words in the directions given at the beginning of a worksheet. (Circle, solve, check your work, multiply, etc.) Try to find something that is normally difficult for him and use highlighting to make it easier.

I would love to know what study strategy is most helpful for your children. I am always looking for new ideas to try!

More on study skills:

What Is Your Child's Learning Style?

Teach Your Kids How To Study


Turn Halloween Anticipation Into Educational Fun
Get Your Child Organized for School

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#1 Coupons 2012-10-09 00:26
Highlighting is one of the study skills they're teaching at my daughter's school, and I think it's great. They're only allowed to do it on worksheets, but it really seems to help her zero in on the important information.

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