Writing up school notes

Review, write up and summarise school notes at home each day

This is probably the single most important learning habit for succeeding at school.

Some students work at home only when they feel a need to. That means homework, if and when set, and revision just before the exams. But if the facts have been forgotten by the time revision comes around, they have to go through the whole learning process again.

I always ask my students what they’ve covered during the past week, and quite often they can’t remember. And they don’t have good enough notes from which to catch up.

This is a crazy waste of time!

It is true that in some lessons, pupils don’t write notes. They may have worksheets to fill in, or watch a video, or do something practical. But whatever happens, there should be some learning going on, and that’s what must be re-enforced quickly.

Quite often students will only have time to simply copy from the board without understanding, so re-writing their notes gives them a chance to look up information in their textbook or online before they’ve completely forgotten.

The answer is simple, but not easy. You may have to use your powers of persuasion for this, but as I’ve suggested before, describe this as an experiment which your teenager can try and give you feedback. Here is my suggestion written as instructions to your child:

  • Buy a separate ring-file for each of your subjects
  • Create sections for each topic.
  • In class, make sure that you make good notes.
  • Bring home all the notes and materials from each class.
  • At home, preferably the same day, read through your class materials and notes and make sure you understand them. If there’s anything that isn’t clear, look it up in your textbook, revise guide or online revision website. If you don’t have time, or can’t find an answer, make a note to ask your teacher.
  • Write a summary, in your own words if possible, of what you’ve learnt and put it in your folder. This should be as brief as possible, not just a copy of your class notes. If you haven’t made notes, write down what you remember.

Just to summarise – what are the benefits of writing up notes?

  • It allows the student to refresh their memory of what they’ve covered, allowing the material to enter long-term memory and stay there.
  • It results in notes that are much clearer and better organised and which are much more useful for revision than notes scattered through countless class notebooks, worksheets and random pieces of paper.
  • It will encourage them to take care over making good notes at school in the first place.

This is all about learning as you go, which makes revision much easier. If your child intends to go further with their studies, they will need to get into this habit, so doing it now will give them a head start.


If you have questions about this topic, do ask me – use the form below

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