Most helpful positive review
86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Simple and Effective
on March 13, 2010
I got this because my 10 year old son had a couple of grades drop this quarter, and in talking to him, it was not because he found the topics difficult, but rather because he was not studying adequately, and was not studying adequately in part because these two courses are heavily reliant on handouts rather than textbooks, and he was losing all of his handouts! He's in a gifted program in which the materials are often handouts to supplement, so this problem was only going to increase. I bought this as well as two other books (I tend to over-research/bombard problems; the lawyer in me). While it's early yet, I probably could have done with just this book. I think it's worth its weight in gold.
The book basically presents a system for organizing and doing better. SOAR stands for Set goals, Organize, Ask questions, and Record your progress. It takes you and the child through prioritizing, setting personal and academic goals, organizing your school gear and your study space, study skills, including how to maximize textbook reading, paper writing, interacting with teachers, taking notes, and taking tests, and tracking progress. And while it might sound daunting, it's done so that it's fun and motivating, shockingly.
My son was kind of the classic, work on homework for 2 hours then forget to turn it in the next day, or cram everything into the bookbag and it gets lost and crumpled in the bottom kid. The binder system prescribed in this book nips that in the bud. His classroom has a general system that uses a bunch of folders for different things (the teacher doesn't take the folders up or anything, so we didn't have to buck the system to opt otherwise). This doesn't really work well for my son, as he will forget to bring home one folder or another. Well, the system prescibed by this book involves one binder with pockets on the inside covers, to which you add very thin double pocketed folders (available at any Staples or similar store), one for each subject, looseleaf paper for notetaking, and grade tracking sheets in the book that can be copied and put into the binder behind each folder. It also recommends use of a weekly planner, though not just any planner will do; it gives explanation for best kind to use and how to use it. It also gives you sample planner sheets which you can use for reference or, if you want, copy and use in the binder. The basic point is that no matter what document he produces or gets at school, there is a place for it in that binder.
So my son and I read through the book together. We both excitedly went out and got the binder materials that day and put that system to work immediately. So now my son knows that any paper he gets at school or has to turn in will go in that binder. There's one pocket for anything that needs action at home, from homework to things to be signed. There's a folder for each subject, and one pocket in it is for work to turn in, the other is for handouts and study aids. There's the loose leaf paper for taking notes on any subject, after which he puts those notes behind the appropriate folder (the folders are tabbed and double as dividers), and whenever he gets a test back, he logs it on the grade tracking sheet so that we always know where he stands in that class. Pocket on inside back binder cover is for miscellaneous things, like his monthly cafeteria menu. We also got the prescibed file crate and files so that he can empty the subject folders into the corresponding subject files once he is tested on a topic. All his old papers stay in the file crate at least until the grading period ends, so that in case his teacher makes a mistake, we have all of the old tests and quizzes to reference.
My son felt instantly better about his prospects; now he is firmly in control. My son is one who likes rules anyway, so having a place for everything and everything in its place makes him feel jazzed.
So, that's just the binder system. The tips on using textbooks, interacting with teachers, writing papers, and taking tests were similarly awesome. My son had a paper due Friday. He excels in writing, so I didn't think the tips here would be that useful. However, they were. They helped him to write a paper that was quite focused, had a lot of good support, and was well-organized. His papers usually are, but he produced this one in MUCH less time than usual.
My son was apprehensive about an upcoming test in one of the topics he'd been doing poorly in, so I went with him through the textbook review procedure outlined in the book. We did it together in just the day before the test, which was when the SOAR book came in the mail, and when I asked him later how the test went, he happily said that this study procedure really works, because there were no surprises on this test. He predicted an A or B+, minimum. So literally in just a day, he went from dreading the test to excitedly looking forward to excelling on future ones in this subject. What more can you ask for? We both predicted that this class is going to become one of his best, because in truth, it has a great textbook that really works with the program, he just wasn't using it to his advantage.
Bottom line: Get the book; you won't be sorry. We've only had it for under a week, and it has already proven its worth 10 times over.