Skim First, Answer Later: A Textbook Study Strategy


Photo courtesy of Egasit Mullakhut/Shutterstock

If you've seen the tome of a textbook your elementary-schooler or middle-schooler has been lugging around, you know that getting through a chapter is quite a chore, never mind retaining important information. But textbook studying doesn't have to be a slog! Here's a simple activity you can do at home before your child begins those long end-of-the-chapter review questions. This can help your young one improve his reading skills to make for more meaningful study sessions.

What You Need


What You Do

Go the to the end of the chapter your kid has been assigned. Read the first question in the chapter review and help your child identify one or two key words in the question (names, places, dates, vocabulary). Begin with the first section of the chapter and skim by reading only the first and last sentences of each paragraph. While skimming, remind your student to look for the key words from the question. Next to each question, write the page number and paragraph number (e.g. p. 53, #3) where you found the key words. Repeat this process for each chapter question.

This is an easy way to find answers to factual questions, as well as support for open-ended, higher-level questions. By breaking down the questions into key words, and lessening the amount of reading, homework sessions with your elementary- or middle-school student will be shorter and more efficient. Eventually, your student will be able to skim first and answer more quickly!

Source: Submitted by Holly Jachowski, Community Manager of


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