Note-taking is an important skill in life. Certainly, for students who go on to traditional college classes, their note-taking skills will be put to use! Even students who don’t pursue the traditional college route need to learn how to take good notes though. Meetings, lectures, training, and other things require us to take notes that we can reference later. If our note-taking skills are not particularly strong, then this can cause problems in future classes or work situations. Note-taking is one area where home educators may need to be a little more intentional about making sure their students have adequate opportunities to practice this skill.

In some cases, co-ops, dual enrollment, or other in-person class options offer the perfect solution for practicing note-taking. As I live out in the sticks, these options aren’t readily available, so I turned to video classes for my high school students. There are a plethora of online classes available that offer either live video lectures, or pre-recorded ones. I think one of the keys is making sure that at least some of the classes you choose rely on the student’s lecture notes for the majority of instruction. If the lecture is basically just a repeat of the class text, then it may not push your high schooler to learn to take better notes.

It can be a bit rocky at the beginning, even if your student has previous note-taking experience. The first time any of my teens have come to a class where they are tested on the material in the lectures, they inevitably find out that their notes aren’t as comprehensive as they thought! It is important to make sure that your student does know how to take notes, and you certainly want to give them a heads-up about the importance of taking thorough notes for their class. Once you’ve done that, step back a bit and let them take responsibility for taking and studying their notes. If they struggle and need some help strengthening their note-taking skills, then do give them the support they need to master the skill. Don’t step in and edit their notes for each class though. If they get a low score on a quiz because they are not taking enough notes, then they will quickly learn that they need to be more attentive to their note-taking going forward.

If you’re not sure how to teach effective note-taking to your student, then try looking up an online class or other resource on the topic. There are some great suggestions, articles, and videos that will walk you through how to take notes from both text and lecture sources. Keep these bookmarked to revisit later in case your student needs a refresher at some point.

Effective note-taking skills are useful far beyond the academic study years, and it’s worth the effort it takes to master.