All students’ need good study skills but knowing how to teach those skills can be a challenge. For some reason teaching study skills has always been a difficult abstract topic for me and with my oldest being a 7th grader I knew that it was something we needed to focus on. I enjoyed this opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System particularly using Level 2: Elementary and Level 3 (Grades 5/6-10/11). This included a workbook for each level, a teachers manual, and a supplemental manual for the elementary level. I used level 2 with my fifth grade daughter and level 3 with my seventh grade son.
The Victus Study Skills System is built on three major parts or cornerstones. First, “Where am I now?” This section focuses on learning strengths and an assessment of current study habits. Second, “Where do I want to be?” This covers creating a mission statement and setting goals. Finally, “How do I get there?” This is where you really get into learning new study habits and skills to help you achieve the goals that you created in the second section. This cornerstone focuses on things like time management, listening, note taking and test taking.
There are examples for each section or lesson and then opportunities to practice. When comparing the elementary level with level 3 (5/6-10/11) you see a very similar layout of concepts, but the elementary level has shorter assignments and does not always go as in depth. Sometimes, the assignments are are entirely different. For example, in one of the lessons my daughter was doing a word search and my son was working on a calendar. There are other lessons where they both needed to answer questions or fill in the blanks but the elementary lesson has fewer questions.
Lessons in which my daughter had the same but fewer questions were very easy to combine. I would teach the lesson and we would go through the work together. However, for some of them I felt like they really needed my individual attention because of the differences in the layout. In hindsight, when I use this program again, I will give an introduction the program together, but plan to spend time individually with each child.
I liked how, instead of just telling them that note taking was a good study strategy, it went through and taught them how to take good notes. The book explained using short hand, keeping things brief, not needing to use complete sentences, and even how to determine which things are important to note. They then have the opportunity to practice taking notes using several sets of information. Once they have practiced, they can compare their notes to a set of well-taken sample notes on the same information.
I also really appreciated how it showed them how to get from where they are to where they want to be. By starting with an assessment of their own learning styles, they can progress into self advocates and choose to study and use the strategies that work best for them. Another step that I think was really important was setting goals. If you do not know where you want to go, you will not be able to figure out how to get there. I think that helped them to understand why the study skills that they learned in the the third part of the program were important.
Overall, we enjoyed this product but I do feel that it is worth noting that while they say you can teach multiple levels at a time, I found it very difficult to teach both Level 2 and Level 3 together. The overall topics were similar but the activities and such were different enough that it became confusing for my students. I recommend considering individual times for different levels. If you had multiple students on the same level, I think it would work fine with group instruction. The other thing that I would note is that while they say it is a five hour course, it took us significantly more than 5 hours to work through the course. That might change somewhat if I was not trying to do two different levels at once. The extra time is not a big deal in a home setting like ours, but an important consideration for planning if you are using it for a larger time bound setting like a co-op.
I think that the Victus Study Skills System is a good system to teach study skills and help students understand the importance of those skills. I love that it helps each child look at themselves as individuals and teaches them a variety of tools and strategies that they can work with to best meet their individual learning styles and goals. There is also a primary level (K-2) and a college level that we did not use at this time. If you would like to find out more about the other levels or see how other families utilized the program, I encourage you to check out the other Review Crew reviews using the link below.
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