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How to teach note taking may be very subtle occurring over a long period of time.
1) Highlighting Vocabulary Words
While your children are reading books, have them highlight new vocabulary words in yellow. When looking up the definition of these words, only accept a 1-2 word definition. Initially, it may sound easy to define a word in 1-2 words, but it really is NOT easy at all. In fact, it is much simpler to re-write the definition that a dictionary gives even though it may hurt the hand after awhile. Why insist on only 1-2 word definitions? Simple ... to limit wordiness and get straight to the main point. If more than two words are required to write a definition of a word, have your scholar present their argument to you (kind of like how an attorney would present his case to the judge and court).
All too often in college/university, Christians are trapped in their own words by professors and humanistic students. These individuals attempt to entrap Christians in wordiness. Therefore, start training your scholars now to be short, quick, and to the point. Highlighting new vocabulary words in books, is an excellent start.
2) Completing Book Report Forms
Another approach to teaching note taking is completing book report forms. Why? Filling in the blanks on the book report forms teaches a young scholar how to limit wordiness and get to the main point. These forms gradually and carefully teaches a young scholar how to look for the important points of literature. Moreover, the discussions parents have with their young scholars while completing these book report forms, presents WHY it is essential for covenant children to review literature and all things from a Christian worldview.
Outlining is probably one of easiest ways to begin teaching note taking. Take outlining slowly and simply. This may be done when your children are quite young by reviewing your church bulletin each Sunday just before services. Put big, fat Roman numerals on the side of the major issues and show the A's, B's, C's and so forth underneath the main subheadings. If you can remember to take different color pencils to church with you to show the difference between the different outlining headings, the easier it is for your scholars to understand and master the idea of outlining. Once the outlining of church bulletins is mastered (do this over a period of several years if you have young children), you may want to carry outlining over to whatever text you have that you use for homeschool. Outline several chapters with the child. Then, let your child outline while you are there with him/her. At first your scholar may become frustrated as their outlines may tend to be quite wordy. This frustration is more than understandable. Yet outlining is one of the main keys to learning how to take notes. Moreover, outlining is VERY helpful in dumping wordiness.
Once your scholars become comfortable with and proficient at doing non-wordy outlines, THEN have your scholars take notes from audiobooks. Not only is this good practice, but your scholars will not become frustrated as they can always rewind the audiobook! Moreover, this exercise will reinforce the notion of having their outlines quick and to the point.
While having continual practice of note taking with an audiobook, have your scholars take notes on the Sunday sermon. This will be a much more difficult process as your scholar will be taking notes LIVE. In other words, they may not rewind the preacher or ask him to stop. Outlining a live sermon each Sunday is wonderful note taking practice and experience. Do not be surprised if initially your scholar will not be able to get all the information they desire from the minister while taking notes; however, continual sermon note taking practice will increase your scholar's ability. To double check your scholar's work, be sure to discuss the three major points of the sermon, examples given for each point (in history or current events) along with Biblical support, psalms/hymns sung, etc., on your way home from church in the car.
(NOTE: Some of the above ideas overlap, meaning they may occur at the same time. What is most interesting, however, is that your scholar does not necessarily have to know they are being prepared to be proficient note takers).
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