How to take and teach note taking

Taking effective notes in class is the key for the most successful students. Note taking is not simply to keep students busy during classes but provides students with extra ability to concentrate on what is being taught and helps to prompt memories and bring back information later.  “Taking notes aid comprehension and retention. Researchers have found that if important information is contained in notes, it has a 34% chance of being remembered. Information not found in notes only have 5% changes of being remembered” (Longman & Atkinson, 1999).

Many students understand the importance of taking notes, but simply don’t know how to do it. How can you help your child to learn note taking skills?

Here are a few tips …how to take the best notes

  • Take notes in your meetings.
  • Take notes using the student tips below while having your child sit beside you.
  • Watch documentaries with a notepad.
  • Practice note taking skills with your child.
  • Attend seminars and free events. (Check your local libraries, colleges, community centers, museums -all have great learning programs which are often free.)
  • Doodle. Where? Anywhere! Doodling has been found to be helpful in recalling information.
  • Share stories and experiences of how your notes have helped you -both in and out of school.

Here are some note taking skills to aid both you, as the parent and educator, as well as your student:

  • Actively listen to important points.
  • Create an effective place to take notes -use a 3 ring binder, 3×5 cards, spiral -Use what works best for you.
  • Try different tools -pens, paper, etc.
  • Date everything -including any handouts!
  • Leave gaps on the page for easy reading and later editing.
  • Use different colors of ink -for notes and thoughts.
  • Box, underline, highlight.
  • Define your own shorthand.
  • Practice note taking skills.

Longman, D. G., & Atkinson, R. H. (1999). Reading enhancement and development (6th ed.). Minneapolis/St. Paul: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

By Tracy Atkinson

Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.