Does note taking aid in learning?

Are you a serious notes taker or one who takes it just for name sake? Have you been in a situation when the notes you’ve taken hasn’t been handy before the exams? Wondered why? I’ll demystify the process of taking notes and how effectively you can master the art.

Why note taking helps?

Statistics says that human brain has the tendency to lose almost 40% of the information gathered within 24 hours. The best way to avoid information loss is to take quick and effective notes. Note taking also helps to avoid the rate of forgetfulness. More the interaction with the notes (in any form), lesser the rate you will forget what was taught.

On deeper observation, the main problem in note-taking  is the lack of understanding of its actual purpose. Note-taking doesn’t mean writing down everything that’s being said. Doing this will make you more focused on note-taking  than actually listening.

So, what exactly is the purpose of note taking?

The aim of taking notes is quite simple: on reading the notes, you must be able to recollect what was said during the lecture. Notes help you to learn quickly.  When taking notes, you must stay focused and understand the context of what’s being said. Taking down unwanted piece of information will only make it difficult when you are referring them before your exams. You’ll be wasting time skimming through unwanted content.

Taking effective notes

Be it a classroom lecture, a seminar or a conference –remember to take down notes of only what’s important.

  • Jot down the main (key) points – Give importance to the main points from the presentation or what the professor/speaker says during the talk. You must be able to recollect the statements at the end of the lecture by just reading the notes.
  • Keywords, definitions, dates, statistics–If you come across any important definitions or keywords, make a note of it so that you can go back and read more about it in detail. Take a note of statistical information and important dates from the lecture as they are vital information specific to the topic.
  • Gestures and emphasis on words – Stay alert on emphasis thrown on specific words by the teacher, words that are repeatedly used/written on the board as they can indicate something very important.
  • Use short forms and abbreviations – This is something I practice religiously when taking notes. Use abbreviations and symbols wherever possible to save time when taking notes. Few examples – e.g. for example, w/o for without, @ for at, & for and, # for number, and so on). After working with thousands of students on memory techniques and deeply observing their behaviors, I have seen that most students tend to use short forms and abbreviations to a great extent and have found it useful.
  • Use bullet & sub-bulleted lists – Take notes in bullet points rather than long paragraphs. For example, when the teacher says, “There are 4 types of ….”, immediately use a numbered list to jot down the list of 4 items. This helps to recollect the information easily and correlate with what was taught during the lecture.

Which method should you follow for taking notes?

There are proven note taking methods such as the Outlining method, the Cornell method, mapping methods, Charting method, and so on. While we will not get deep into each technique, I’ll list out couple of my favourite note taking methods that will suit everyone.

Outlining Method –The most popular note taking method. You can organize the notes in a structured way using bullet lists. The lecture title/topic will be the heading level and further points can go as bullets/sub-bullet points (with proper indents). Gives a clean structure and important points can be easily highlighted.

Cornell Method – Divide your notebook into three sections – Notes, Cue and Summary. Take down notes in the notes section (you can still follow the outline method). At the end of the lecture, add the keywords and questions in the cues section. Try to answer the questions by recollecting the points from notes section “without seeing the content”. Validate the cues and notes section. Finally, summarize the points in the summary section.

Wrapping up!

Every individual has their own way of taking notes. It may not be easy to replicate what the other person is up to. It’s important to decide the right note taking method. All methods have their pros and cons and it’s up to you to get accustomed and use it. Once you master the skill, learning becomes lot more easy!


The golden ‘Half-an-hour’ rule – One rule which can bring in massive positive change in your child!

When it comes to parent-children communications, there’s always a learning curve for parents. Because let’s face it – the way you communicate with your four-year-olds will be very different from the way you are needed to communicate with your eleven-year-olds. As your child grows, it’s important that you keep changing the way you talk to them.

If you have school going children, it’s vital for you to have best quality communication with your child as your child is now exposed to a whole new set of people – from teachers to classmates to the principal to everybody else at school. Schooling years are often considered as the golden years of life and it’s true that schooling years determine a great deal about who your child will become as an adult. Here’s something we want to share with you which will help you get closer to your child in ways you cannot imagine, during their schooling years – The Golden ‘Half-an-hour’ rule.

What is The golden ‘Half-an-hour’ rule?

The golden ‘Half-an-hour’ rule means that parents should make themselves available to their kids exclusively for at least half an hour everyday, where they talk to their children all about what happened at school. The goal of this rule is to get an idea about what’s happening at your child’s school as well as how your child is progressing, what is their mental state of mind, to see if there’s been something that’s bothering your child and so on.

Just doing this will get you so closer to your child and it helps your child build trust with you. By practicing this rule everyday, you send out a message to your child that you are always there at their side and that you’ll find solution to whatever problems they might be facing at school! This might seem simple at the outlook but it provides a massive sense of security in children. It helps your children to actually count on you and they build a sense of being covered by you, which is very important for young children.

Besides, getting your child to talk to you on a regular basis about things that happened at school will give you an idea about their friends, interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes like nothing else as a major portion of your child’s day is spent at school. Children who regularly talk with their parents about what’s been happening at school generally grow up to be more outgoing and confident as they don’t fear of the worst – because they know that their parents will always cover them!

Most importantly, the golden ‘Half-an-hour’ rule helps your child believe that you are accessible to them! And why is that important? It is important because this belief is what will make your children run to you when they have some problems instead of resorting to other ways like – discussing with friends their age (who in most cases will not be able to provide any real help) or not doing anything about the problem at all (which will negatively impact their mental and emotional growth).

So, before you think of the big ways through which you can bring about a positive change in your child, begin with small but the most vital – ‘Half-an-hour’ rule, practicing it everyday, consistently and look for yourself how it will bring an evident positive change in your child.

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The 3 big challenges most children face today

As a parent or a teacher, we’re all always looking at ways which can help our children get better. In a competitive world, it’s not enough to just do great at academics. The world is looking for children who are equipped to solve the problems that come up in an efficient fashion, and that demands for a better overall personality development in children. Skillful people is what the world needs and as parents or teachers, we should try to imbibe as many skill sets as possible in a child including their social skills, emotional skills besides academic performances. On the contrary, most parents however often struggle with their child’s development.

Understanding what challenges our children are facing is where the problem lies as most parents try to judge a child’s development based on the marks on a marksheet. But, is that all? No. After having coached thousands of students on handwriting techniques and personality development skills, we do not believe that the only big challenge children face today is concerned with their academic performance. So, what are the big challenges most children face today?

Number 1 – Lack of abilities to excel at academics

This is the most acknowledged and accepted challenge as many people agree and believe that children today lack the abilities and skills needed to do well at academics. The part of the problem is that most people stop, right here at this moment of realization and do not bother to dig in to the why of the problem. Why do our children lack the abilities to excel at academics? What is coming in their way? It’s crucial to find answers to these questions in order to solve the problem. In our experience of having coached thousands of students every year, we can conclude that there are a plethora of reasons to why children do poorly in their academics like:

  • Difficulties in recollecting the concepts taught and learnt – most children report that they do remember the concepts well, but just cannot recollect them while writing their answers during exams.
  • Stress and anxiety during exams – Exam blues are a real thing and most schools do not actively take interest in teaching children the right kind of coping mechanisms to deal with exam stress and anxiety.
  • Poor handwriting – Well, let’s face it: An evaluator will allot marks based on what the child has written on his paper and a poor handwriting is definitely a hindrance.
  • Poor preparations – The last quite obvious reason is poor preparation. Teaching concepts to children alone is not enough. It is as important to teach them how to efficiently prepare for their exams to drive good results.

Number 2 – Poor understanding of the basic fundamentals

The basic fundamentals of various subjects like maths and science form the foundation of academic education and sadly, most children fail to get their concepts right. While this might not seem like a big problem in the beginning, it will slowly find its way and come in the way of a child’s performance. Every child needs to be taught the importance of understanding the basic fundamentals of any subject and as parents and teachers, we need to ensure that our children know and understand the fundamentals.

Number 3 – Behavioral challenges

The most underrated challenges that children face today is with respect to their behavioral challenges. The reason is it is so easy to overlook the negative changes in the behavior of a child when parents are largely focusing on the problems that are on the surface – the poor academic performance.

However, the importance of paying attention to behavioral challenges cannot be ignored because this could be the reason why your child is doing poorly at school. Besides, the goal is to focus on the overall personality development of a child over what’s stated in the marksheet of a child. Hence, it’s crucial that both parents and teachers pay undue attention to a child’s behavior and monitor their behavioral patterns from time to time.

In order to bring out the best version of our children, it is crucial that we pay attention to all 3 challenges equally and explore ways through which we can tackle these challenges in the most effective fashion.


Mobile phones: Does it create a positive or negative impact on learning?

The usage of smartphones is growing widespread. What was once a luxury and a costly affair, is today just another piece of technology. Today, mobile phones fill the hands of almost everyone – even school and college students. As schools and colleges embrace the concept of eLearning, mobile phones have replaced physical books to certain extent. Classroom learning is no longer the same as it was a decade or couple old. While it’s great in certain aspects, mobile phones do have an impact on children’s learning capabilities in different ways; one major impact being the time spent on non-academic activities during class hours.Other potential disruptions include loss in concentration and effective time spent on their studies.

Studies reveal that students who don’t use mobile phones during class hours are able to take down better notes and recollect more information and obtain a higher grade when compared to ones who used mobile phones during lecture hours. Researchers from Rutgers University in the United States performed an extensive study on students to understand the relationship between distractions when using mobile phones and laptops during class hours and their performance. As part of the study, mobile phones and laptops were banned for one half of the lectures while students were allowed to use them for the other half. Results revealed that having a mobile did not affect the scores in tests within the lecture but had an impact during the term end exams by almost 5% or half a grade.

On my personal interaction with students of different age groups to understand their perception, about 50% of them point out the benefits of using mobile phones in classrooms for better engagement and learning experience.There are situations when mobile phones can get annoying in a class –a student sending text message to others to distract their concentration, using social media and gaming to distract others.

The Negative Impact

Using mobile phones in classrooms impacts group learning. Having a mobile phone and simultaneously listening to class lectures impacts not only the one who uses it, but also the one who does not use it.Educational Psychology research studies point out that when a student who doesn’t use mobile phone attends lectures where it is permitted, their performance takes a hit. Overall, it impacts the performance during exams and their results. Studies also show that when mobile phones are completely banned from schools, the average test scores of children improved by 6%.

It’s in the hands of parents, teachers and the schools to let students know about the damaging effects of mobile phones.It’s their responsibility to set clear boundaries for mobile phone usage. It not only affects the results of their children but the whole class. Schools also have to have some strict guidelines on the usage of mobile phones.Using digital devices in the classroom could create a disconnect with other students. Parents must influence children from using mobile phones for unwanted purposes during class hours and let them focus on their education.


Why is it crucial that parents, teachers and students work together as a team to ensure the best for children!

A child’s development of personality begins right from home and school. Everything that a child does at home or at school is adding up one of his or her traits or abilities, and goes a long way in building the overall personality of a child. To bring the best in our children, it is very crucial that parents, teachers and students work in tandem, as a team.

We can never stress more on the importance of roles being played by both parents and teachers in a child’s development and yet, many a time, we are surprised to meet parents who are all-blames on teachers, and teachers, who are all-blames on parents. Unless all the three – the parents, teachers and students are working together towards a common goal, there shall always be some kind of hindrance in a child’s overall personality development. We decided to put together the 3 big reasons to why the trio-rapport between parents, teachers and children needs to be strong. Read on.

#1 – Children react differently at different environments and both parents and teachers need to have a clear idea on this to ensure best interests of a child

Isn’t it often that you have heard parents saying – I don’t understand why my kid is so talkative at school? She’s the quietest person at home and we’ve never caught her talking too much. Or if you are a parent, haven’t you heard teachers remarking comments like – Your child seems too drained and exhausted even when it’s the first hour at school. Has he been sleeping alright? Well, it is more common than you may think. Children behave differently at home as compared to how they behave at school.

Some children who are total introverts at school exhibit extreme extrovertedness at home and vice versa. This calls for attention because such display of dual behaviours will affect the personality development in children. What’s the fix? A clear communication between teachers and parents, where parents know exactly what’s happening with your child at school and where teachers understand how a child behaves at home.

For once you’ve known clearly, both as a parent or a teacher, you can take required actions to strike a balance between a child’s behaviour at home and at school. It is extremely crucial in building the social and emotional skills of a child, which are moulded in children right from a tender age.

#2 – Parents’ involvement in a child’s development is as important as ever, even when children have been enrolled in some of the best schools in the city

We often urge parents to break the notion which is spread so widely among parents – We have enrolled our children to one of the best schools. Our part here is over. And now, it is the responsibility of teachers to ensure the best for our children. As long as parents hold onto the same belief, it is impossible to bring out the best version of our children – because it is home where children spend most time in and it is parents with who children spend the most time with! So, what is happening at home and the relationship between parents and children has a direct influence not only on a child’s academic performance but also on his or her overall personality! Thus, a collective approach on part of both parents and teachers is what is most needed.

#3 – Parents must be informed of a child’s progress as most part of implementation happens at home

Providing creative assignments and tasks that add value to a child’s personality is something most teachers do. But once a child gets back home after school, the responsibility shifts onto the parents to ensure that your child is using the right ways to complete his/her assignments. Many children simply try to replicate the same work as their friends, limiting their own thinking abilities.

If parents have turned a blind eye to this, it is quite possible that teachers would never know that a child is not really involving or applying one’s own brains in completing tasks, but is relying on other peers to do the same. Thus, it’s important for teachers to keep parents informed about what’s happening at school and as for parents, it is important to keep a check on how much involved or invested your child is in the given activity. What happens when you don’t? You will become aware that your child hasn’t really understood the concepts right only at the time when the results are out and then it might be too late to reflect on the same.