Some may think choosing what to study is the most important thing in their children’s education, but what may be even more important is teaching them how to study. As a member of the Homeschool Crew Review I recently received a set of terrific resources from Victus Study Skills System to use with my children in our homeschool.
For most of us, good study skills don’t come naturally, so I was glad to sit down with all my kids and give this a try. We used Level 2: Elementary (2/3-4/5) and Level 3 (5/6-10/11) as well as Level 4 (10/11-College) this past month. Every child at every age and grade level can benefit from improved study skills so I was happy to see materials for the various levels.
What We Received:
My shipment contained a full set of the Victus Study Skills System. Included were:
- Teacher Supplement for Primary Grades (Kindergarten to Grades 2/3)
- Student Workbook for Primary Grades
- Teacher Supplement for Elementary Grades (2/3 to 4/5)
- Elementary Student Workbook
- Teacher Edition
- Level 3 (Grades 5/6 to 10/11) Student Workbook
- Student Planner
- College Student Workbook (Grades 10/11 to College)
The supplement booklets were smaller in size, pamphlet style. The other books were all spiral-bound, printed on high-quality paper with study covers. This allows them to lay flat, open on the table. You can also easily fold them back on themselves, making them easy to work in.
The Student Workbooks are consumable, with room for answering questions and taking notes. The Teacher’s Edition is not consumable, so when using this program in future, you only need to purchase student books for the appropriate levels.
What It Is:
Victus Study Skills System is a program that helps students think about how they study. It is a systems approach to study that does not just focus on isolated skills and individual components to be mastered, but instead helps them gain a vision for the why as well as understand the how of studying.
It is best for students to refresh their skills each year. They can take the course that is appropriate for their grade/age level. The four levels grow with students as they mature in knowledge and understanding. There is also a PowerPoint presentation available, as well as a complimentary packet for families who want to reinforce the course.
It is recommended students work through the guided workbook and activities for 5 days in a row, approximately an hour per day. The lessons direct students to consider learning styles, set goals, make assessment of current study habits and take a realistic look at where they and where they are headed.
For four decades now, this company has been helping students, parents and teachers with:
- instruction in organization and time management
- motivation and goal setting
- note taking and test taking
- reading with better comprehension and efficiency and other areas related to improving study habits and increasing learning
The course is short and focused, with the intention of revisiting each year to build on what the student has learned and how they’ve grown since the last time they went through it. The Teacher Edition gives all the necessary info to lead your students through the workbooks and activities. It coincides with the Level 3 Student Book, including the workbook pages with answers as well as helpful ideas and suggestions for discussion.
The main objectives of this course are to help students:
- understand that there are specific steps and strategies.
- build specific skills and learn there are specific tools to help them succeed accomplishing their goals.
- develop positive attitudes when working toward their goals.
- understand their own role in achieving their goals.
There is some variation in the assignments and activities of the different levels, but the 10 lessons for each level are all on the same topics. This means no matter what grade or age, everyone can work on topic together at the same time. Though the pages of the Teacher Edition vary a bit with the Primary and Elementary levels, or the College Workbook, the parent/teacher can easily adapt the instructions using the supplements included. The College level workbook can also be used by students independently, or with a parent/teacher working along side them.
How We Used It:
After skimming through the materials to see where my children might fit into this program, my plan was to work for an hour Monday through Friday one week when we did not have many outside commitments. I wanted to have consistency and focus as we worked through these pages.
Because my students have never actually worked with a study skills program before, I had my 7th grade daughter work in the Elementary Student Workbook, my 9th grade son used the Level 3 Student Book and my 11th grade son used the College Workbook since he’s looking at plans for his future.
Each morning, the four of us sat around the table together and worked through the lessons out loud, stopping to fill out checklists, answer questions or to brainstorm ideas when appropriate.
On Day 1, I gave them an overview of the what the course was about and the kids each took an assessment of their current study habits. We also discussed learning styles, strengths and weaknesses. Each child was able to answer questions that led him to finding out his learning style. We had a lot of fun with this and I found it interesting that they can see how certain siblings leaned heavily toward being a strong visual learner , or how kinesthetic described them when they were younger but not so much these days.
On Day 2 we reviewed our discussions from the previous day and moved on to talk about goal setting. Brainstorm about where they want to be and what they want to be doing in five years or ten years was the first activity. Once some ideas were formed each of my kids took time to work on a list of goals for things they ought to be accomplishing daily and weekly. They prioritized these and took a good look at how they actually spent their time and how they wanted/needed to spend their time. We looked at activities such as homework, family time, Bible study, sports activities.
They were given a clever acronym to help them analyze and make an action plan. This helped them see how they can be SMART with their goals and habits:
- Time Bound
Day 3 was all about Time Management, Organization of Study Space, as well as Reading for Comprehension and Learning. Our discussion and assignments for time management and organizing study space was actually a lot of fun. The kids enjoyed taking charge of their time and space. I’m seeing some great results since we addressed these topics.
The section on how to read for comprehension gave my students some tools for getting the most out of their lessons, particularly when it comes to textbooks and study guides. This seemed to be a new concept to them, and because we us a wide variety of resources and not many textbooks, it took some work for them to wrap the brains around it all.
With Day 4 came tips for Note Taking, Test Preparation and Test Taking. Everyone has their own style for taking notes, but not everyone does it efficiently and effectively. These sections were practical and helpful and gave us some good material for discussion. It was emphasized that when you take time to prepare for tests (by taking good notes you can use to study) then you’re nervous feelings will change to self-confident feelings. That is a great life-lesson right there!
On Day 5 we reviewed the previous lessons and re-visited the daily planning assignments. There was a lot of information to process this week, so I asked each of my kids to take time independently, in a quiet place to write out their daily/weekly/yearly plans. I do not see these as a strict schedule that must be followed precisely, but as a general guideline for how they spend their time and prioritize their activities.
How We Liked It:
Overall we liked the Victus Study Skills System. My children were a bit hesitant at first. They thought it might be something kids in public school should be doing. While some examples and samples in the lessons may not apply directly to our situation, the concepts behind them definitely do apply.
It’s nice that this course is compact and concise. Because my children are older (middle school and high school) the lessons sometimes took longer than an hour. For this reason, if we choose to follow up and do the lessons again in the future (as recommended) I would stretch it out to 10 days and spend a little more time for deeper discussion and individual work.
We liked working together as a group. It was helpful to have input and feedback from one another. Having a plan and an idea of what they want to accomplish and what they should be doing to meet those goals has motivated us to make better use of our days.
For me, that’s a success – they were exposed to new ideas and gained a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The lessons applied not only to study skills, but to life skills in general and that’s a huge win.
You can see how other families are using the different levels of Victus Study Skills System – just click on the image below and you’ll be able to find out what my fellow crew mates are saying!