10 skills we assume students know but often don’t

There are many skills we as parents or educators, assume students know but often don’t.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether students attend public or private, primary or secondary schools, as I regularly see students lacking in the same skills time and time again.  Many of my 1:1 students that I work with usually demonstrate a lack of key understanding in many of these areas when we first start working together too.

Here are 10 of the most common skills we assume students know but often don’t:

  1. Knowing how and actually using a diary/planner effectively – too many students actually don’t seem to use anything these days. They try to retain and project manage their homework, assignments and assessment information all in their head.  For those that do use a diary or planner, whether it be paper or electronic, they have invariably taught themselves how to use it. Sometimes they are not using it as effectively as they could be when it comes to the organisation and time management of their academic lives.
  2. Asking teachers for help and more particularly knowing how and what questions to ask – this is two fold as noted.  Firstly many students do not ask their teachers for help when they don’t understand something. They often worry about getting something wrong and looking silly in front of their peers. Or they don’t actually know how to frame a question to seek help.  Here’s a link to a BLOG I wrote specifically on this topic for further information.
  3. Knowing how to study or revise – this is such a vague proposition for many students as they know, and are regularly told by their teachers, that they should be doing it.  In reality many of them usually don’t know where to start, how to do this and be able to apply it across all the subjects they are studying.
  4. Knowing when they should be studying and revising – usually students only do this in preparation for a test, assessment or exam and not at any other time.  Again this is usually because they know they need to do it for this purpose but don’t realise they would also benefit more by doing it more regularly to ensure the information they are learning will be stored in their long term memory and be there for future assessments.
  5. Knowing how to prioritise tasks – students live very much in the now and therefore struggle to look more than a few days ahead.  Therefore longer term assignments often get forgotten until they are almost due or for many students the night before.  Students often think they have more time than they do so the procrastinate and put tasks off, and focus usually on those homework tasks that are due the next day.
  6. Knowing how long they should spend on particular tasks – many students struggle with estimating how long particular homework or assessment tasks should take them and invariably usually tend to underestimate the time required.  What this happens the work either doesn’t get completed, handed in or if it does, it gets rushed and is usually not a students best work.
  7. How to manage their email inboxes and other communication tools – students these days seem to think that there is infinite storage space for these type of communication tools and therefore I regularly see students who do not have systems in place for removing emails and other messages.  For example most of my students inboxes have thousands of messages, a mixture of read and unread and just left in there!
  8. Knowing how to store and file documents electronically and being able to search and find them again – this is a key life skill and something that all students need to be taught and taught well.  Too often students will just save a document and not have a particularly useful filing structure to easily find the document or file when needed again.
  9. Knowing how to, and then actually backing up, their electronic documents and other important bits and pieces – when I ask this question of students I usually get either those that know exactly how their documents are stored and backed up or the complete opposite that have no idea or just assume it is happening.  I usually recommend they sort this out as the last thing you would want as a student is to have your device die and you lose all of your school work and other files.
  10. Taking effective notes – many students take notes because they are told to take notes but don’t often understand the importance of note taking when it comes to their academic lives.  These days I tend to even see many students just relying on notes provided to them by teachers, rather than even taking any notes of their own.  Some students even just think they will remember what they need to and don’t think that taking a lot of notes will be of any use.  Note taking is a skill and very important in assisting students with their learning and knowledge.

Next Steps

All of the above skills are useful to assist students to succeed academically and are also skills that are needed and used in general in life.

It might be worth having a conversation with your child, or children, to gain an understanding from them of their skills across the above 10 key areas.   As a parent just remember you need to do this carefully and not be seen as attacking them in any way – we all know what teens can be like and particularly when this comes from us as parents (yes I am a parent too so I too have to follow this advice).  One way to approach this might be to ask permission to have a discussion with them and refer to this BLOG rather than just bring it up out of nowhere.  Good Luck!

For further information or to learn more on the work I do equipping students with these important skills, please get in touch or give me a call on 0409 967 166.

PS credit must also be given to The College Prep Podcast where I got the idea for writing this blog.