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Back Helping Your Child Succeed Use the SQ3R strategy to read textbooks effectively

Use the SQ3R strategy to read textbooks effectively

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IF YOUR child is not doing as well in school as you expect, it may have been because he or she does not do his or her textbook reading assignments or reads the textbook incorrectly. Teachers know how important it is for students to read their textbooks. The textbook provides essential information about content material that helps prepare students for classroom lectures, activities, discussions and participation.

Although textbook reading is not done for entertainment, students often read their textbooks in the same way they read books for pleasure. They begin with the first page of the chapter and read to the end of the chapter, without stopping. While this method is fine for novels, it is not enough for the level of understanding and retention needed for most textbooks.

A study method like SQ3R is needed for textbook reading. The acronym SQ3R stands for the five steps involved in this study process. They are: survey, question, read, recite and review. Below is an explanation of the steps involved in SQ3R:

  • Survey: This step helps your child gather the information necessary to focus on the chapter. Have your child skim through the textbook and read the title, headings and subheadings, the introduction, the summary, and any graphics and/or reading aids in the chapter.
  • Question: Formulating questions is an important step in SQ3R because the mind becomes actively engaged in the learning process when it is searching for answers. Have your child turn the boldface headings in the chapter into one or more questions. As your child reads each section of the chapter, he will be looking for the answer to those questions.
  • Read: Have your child read one section of the chapter at a time. As he reads each section, have him write the answers, in his own words, under each question he formulated in the previous step. Reading the sections of the chapter fills in the information around the mental framework your child built while surveying the chapter and developing questions about each section. This step, and the next two, recite and review, are repeated over and over as your child reads the chapter.
  • Recite: Reciting material trains the mind to concentrate and learn as it reads. Reciting should be done at the end of each section of the chapter. Have your child cover his answers and check if he can answer the questions. If your child can't recall the answers, have him reread the section or the part of the section that has to do with that question. When your child can answer all of the questions in a section, have him go back to step two, and quiz himself on the next section, reread the section, if necessary, and then recite again. Proceed through all of the sections in the chapter repeating these three steps.
  • Review: Since people learn through repetition, this step provides another opportunity for practice. Repetition enhances the recall of information and builds memory. Once your child finishes the entire chapter using the survey, question, read and recite steps, have him review all of his questions for that chapter. Have him cover the answers to the questions, and quiz himself. If your child forgets some of the answers, have him reread that section of the chapter to refresh his memory. Then have him recite the answer again.

Now that you know about SQ3R, have your child select one class for which he will use this method to read the chapters for the next reading assignment.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 25 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at] with your questions or comments.

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