• Jenn Steliga

April 2020 Book Review - Learning How to Learn: A Guide for Kids and Teens

Learning How to Learn for Kids:

How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying

This book review is longer than normal because I can’t say enough positive things about it – it's just too full of wonderful information!

Don’t let the title of this book fool you. Even if you’re a straight A student, YOU can learn something new from the research and tips offered by authors by Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski. The point of the book is that you can learn new things – hard things – no matter who you are; and you don't need to spend massive amounts of time studying to do so! You need to develop a plan for studying, as well as understand how learning works, and this book guides you on both accounts.

One of the authors, Barbara Oakley, struggled herself with believing she could learn hard things. As a child she felt most comfortable in the world of humanities, and came to believe that learning math just wasn’t for her. Fast forward to adulthood and the girl who once thought math was impossible now has degrees (to include a PhD) in electrical and systems engineering.

Her true passion is helping learners of all ages embrace the process of learning in any area (not just math) they wish to learn more about without letting unhelpful beliefs and habits derail their efforts. 

There’s a version of this book for adults as well. This month I picked the kid version for you parents out there. I'm a mom too. I first discovered this book after I read the original version for adults and thought it might be helpful for my 11-year old in her battle against the evil subject of spelling. You might find it especially helpful now since you're likely more focused (or perhaps I should say differently focused) than before on your child’s education.

There are great tips on how to help your kids develop helpful study habits and approach topics they find challenging using research-backed processes and inspirational stories of others who have overcome their fears of learning something new. One of my favorites is Chapter 3 on procrastination!

If you’re interested in learning more about Oakley’s research, there’s a wonderful MOOC (massive open online course) offered through Coursera that is well worth your (or your child’s) time, or a great alternative to reading the book if you’re not a reader. It’s probably not great for little kids, but junior high and high schoolers would likely enjoy it.

Coursera Link:

Book LInk:

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