How Do I Know If My Student is Really Learning?

Diana Cohen
August 10, 2020
min read
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Applerouth’s New Book + Webinar Series Are Designed to Help.

Thanks to remote school, parents have learned just how hard it is to be an effective teacher. Most parents aren’t trained educators and it’s normal to ask - how can I ensure my kid is really learning? With researchers predicting accelerated learning loss during COVID and an uncertain fall school schedule ahead, the answer to this question is more important than ever.

Our newest book, Applerouth’s Guide to Academic Success, empowers students with research-based insights about how to be a more effective learner. Whether you’re headed back to school for the first time in months or back to the computer for the foreseeable future, this book has the tools you need to succeed.

Richard Vigneault, Applerouth’s Director of Instructional Design, met with me recently to share some of the great advice you’ll find in the new book.

Here are some highlights from our recent chat:

What does the Applerouth Instructional Design team do?

We’re a small, tight-knit group of tutors and artists that creates all the books, animated videos, and infographics that help our students learn and our tutors teach. Our job is to make complex things clear for students and tutors. This takes a lot of empathy - we really have to understand what it’s like being a kid trying to learn the things in our books and what it’s like being a tutor trying to teach those things. We spend a lot of time imagining being students and tutors.

The new book is called Applerouth’s Guide to Academic Success. What does it cover?

The book is designed to help students take control of their learning by teaching executive function skills, as well as the psychology and basic neuroscience of why certain techniques actually work. It’s a highly practical guide with strategies for things like how to take notes, how to stay organized, and how to remember things. The Guide also delves into the science behind good study habits in a way that’s fun, accessible, and will gain buy-in from students.

*Here’s more from Richard on why it’s important to include fun and accessible brain science in a book like this:

Applerouth has been teaching students these study strategies for years - what made you decide to write a book about it now?

It’s true - Jed has been researching these techniques for years and our team has used them with countless students, but we’ve never put it in one student-focused book before. We felt we had the tools to answer the questions that parents are asking right now so we created an Applerouth book to help.

*Here’s more from Richard on the pressing academic questions this book answers for parents right now:

Can you tell us more about the research that went into writing the book?

As I said, Jed’s been doing the research for years as an educational psychologist, and the techniques are already built into how Applerouth tutors work with students. The first thing we had to do for this book is review the latest scholarly research. The different techniques used in education are now being tested a lot, so there’s a wealth of information about what works. The second critical thing was figuring out how to communicate the psychology and neurology to students so they would be empowered to understand why they are doing what they’re doing.

What part of the research surprised you the most?

We learned that the vast majority of teachers don’t teach study skills. Everyone agrees and knows that learning how to learn is important but, in our educational system we don’t have a whole lot of time dedicated to that. Seeing how few kids learn study skills just highlighted the importance of writing a book like this. Too many kids are saying things like, “I’m just not that good at math.” Really, they’re just not aware of or using basic techniques that could help them tremendously. A study skills-focused curriculum like the one we’ve built in our book is a huge opportunity for kids.

*Here’s more from Richard on how study skills can be a game-changer for students:

What makes this book different from other study skills books?

At Applerouth, we use art, design, and user-friendly humor to meet the student halfway. The artistry serves a dual purpose. It makes things fun, engaging, and approachable and it also enhances retention through dual encoding - a learning technique that we directly teach students about in the book. I’m very proud that we write curriculum that trusts the kids and the tutors working with them to be able to talk about things like psychology and the way your brain works. We do this because we know how empowering it will be for the student - it builds their confidence and reduces anxiety.

*Here’s Richard’s take on how we create engaging curriculum that empowers students, builds their confidence, and reduces their anxiety.

What advice do you have for families that will be learning from home again this fall?

Trust your instinct that being more organized would help your child.

We also need to empower our students with trust. It’s something I try to do with my own kids.

What are the signs that a student may need the extra academic help this book and our tutors can offer?

There could be any number of signs - grades that don’t match potential, total disorganization, and lack of engagement - but the number one thing to look for is whether the learning experience is enjoyable or frustrating for the student.

*Here’s Richard’s take on the signs of frustration and a classic Applerouth secret for driving genuine engagement:

Your kid can become the engaged and thriving student you know lies within.

If you’re interested in getting more support in this journey, join Richard and Dr. Jed Applerouth for our upcoming webinar series on The Three Keys to Academic Success.
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