Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Review: Victus Study Skills System

I'm pretty positive that I'm not the only homeschooling mom who struggles with teaching her students study skills. When the boys were younger, it wasn't a big deal.  But now that my older boys are, well...older, it's been something that's more on my mind.  Because of this, I was excited to receive the Student Workbook ($20) and Teacher Edition ($40) from  Victus Study Skills System.  This study skills system can be used with all ages, but is best suited for grades 5 through 12.

The Teacher Edition begins with the philosophy of the Victus Study Skills System.  I found this section very important to read in order to fully understand the system.  This introduction is followed by an explanation of how to best use the program.  This first section gives several helpful tips and techniques to help you become a more effective teacher of the program, as well as a sample plan on how to teach the lessons.

The second section in the Teacher Edition contains the lessons.  These lessons are not scripted, but instead they give you the big ideas behind the lessons and some teaching suggestions for introducing the lesson, as well as instructions for teaching the lesson.  These instructions are written to you, the teacher, and you will want to read them before hand because you will need to put them into your own words to teach the lesson.  A very helpful feature of the Teacher Edition is that it includes reduced versions of the pages in the Student Workbook, so you will know what your child is looking at and working on for the lesson. 

The third section contains reinforcement exercises for the course.  Most of these pages are views of what is included in the Student Workbook.

The Student Workbook begins by giving an introduction of the Victus Study Skills System to the student.  It's always good and helpful to know why we are doing things, and I know my homeschoolers haven't always seen the need for study skills.
There are 10 lessons in the program. Each lesson takes about 1/2 hour to complete, though you can break them up as needed.  Younger students will take longer to complete the lessons than high school students. 
There are three "Foundational Cornerstones" to the program:
  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. How do I get there?
Lessons 1 and 2 make up the "Where am I now?" cornerstone.  In order to get where you want to go, you need to really know where you are.  Lesson 3 makes up the "Where do I want to be?" cornerstone.  Here your student will set goals and create a mission statement.  This allows them to truly define where they want to end up.  Lessons 4 through 10 make up the "How do I get there?" cornerstone.  This cornerstone contains the nitty-gritty of how to actually study.  Time management, note taking, and test taking are just 3 of the six skills covered.  If you'd like to view the table of contents and a sample page, you can do so on the Victus Study Skills System product page.

When I first received the program, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I understood the beginning lessons; it's important to know where your student is and what their learning style is.  But once the lessons shifted over to goal setting and creating a mission statement, I froze.  I've never been good with this process.  I always have a goal in mind, but ask me to write it down and I panic.  Mention "mission statement" and my mind quickly empties.  Thankfully, the lessons walk you through this process and make it fairly painless (or at least make it possible, even for those like me whose minds go blank when this information is requested).  The actual study skills lessons were a bit easier for me to grasp.  There are great tips that I never would've thought of directly teaching, like explaining how to use shorthand when taking notes.  I also appreciated the fact that the pages are clean and uncluttered, and I liked that there are inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout the book.

Since I don't have a lot of large blocks of teaching time anymore, I appreciated that the lessons could easily be broken up or extended to fit the amount of time I had available.  Thankfully, my son (11) didn't pick up on any of my nervousness about the middle part of the program, and he did well with the lessons.  I know I'll need to keep working with him and remind him to use what he's learned.  I think the skills and information are so helpful and worthwhile that I'm going to go through the program with my 14 & 13 year old sons this summer.

If your students, like mine, need instruction on how to study, make sure you check out Victus Study Skills System.  The importance of learning how to study is summed up in the quote on the front of both the Teacher Edition and Student Workbook:
"For the sole true end of education is simply this:  to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spend in vain."      --Dorothy Sayers

Check out Victus Study Skills System on social media:
Twitter: @VictusStudy

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