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Difficulty Studying for Tests

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 10-year-old is having difficulty studying for tests. He stays in his room studying for several hours and when he says he knows the information, I will ask him questions. Usually he can answer about half or less of what I ask. He knows he is supposed to focus on the questions at the end of the unit and the end of the chapter but he can't seem to absorb the material. He has no trouble in Math, English or Spelling because to study you actually do problems or write the spelling words. The studying problems come in with subjects such as Science and Social Studies. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can help him remember the content? Thank you for your help.

A: Your son seems to have problems studying for tests in only certain subjects. I wonder if those subjects coincidentally are ones he doesn't care for and/or are ones taught by teachers he is having problems learning from. Since he tells you he is putting in the study hours, he needs better study skills in these subject areas, whatever the reasons are for his non-retention of the content.

I would suggest a meeting between you, your son, and the teachers who instruct him in these problem subjects. Work out, with their help, a plan of study that they feel will bring understanding and retention. If this fails to bring satisfactory results, I would locate a good tutor who has worked successfully with kids your son's age and with these particular subjects. Oftentimes, just a few sessions with a creative tutor will give a child a new way of learning that suits their particular strengths.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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