Monday, April 7, 2014

Review of Victus Study Skills

Victus Study Skills Review
One thing that public school students get in spades that homeschool students usually don't is lessons in study skills. In fact, when I was a freshman in high school, I had a semester long class in study skills! To be honest, it was more about sharing feelings, it seemed to me, than learning study skills, but that's beside the point. Learning how to study is crucial for homeschool kids because (brace yourself for this shock) -- they won't be homeschooled forever! At some point, most of these munchkins will head off to college and they might need some study skills that they won't have needed while they were studying at home. How much a child needs a formal class in study skills certainly depends on the child and on his/her learning style, but Victus Study Skill System offers an effective product that can benefit many different kinds of children, ages 5th - 12th grades.

The Student Workbook and Teacher Edition, the two integral components of the program, were created by professional educators, and who better to know the most about how students study? We as parents know a lot about how *our* students study - or do we? I actually find myself wondering frequently if my daughter is using her time effectively in the ways that she chooses to read, take notes, and memorize material. I know what works for me. She claims to know what works for her. I remember in school, though (in that 9th grade class!) learning many different ways of note taking. It turns out that I developed my own, but it was a hybrid of ways that I had been taught in school. At 12, my gifted daughter does mostly 10th grade work, but she has that 12 year-old attitude. What does that mean? She doesn't really want to listen to much of what I have to tell her. And that is why a program like this one is ideal for her. It stands in for CATO (the acronym of the name for my 9th grade teacher - yes, we were allowed to call her that!). Add to that the fact that it has a Latin name (Victus - 4th declension, genetive, meaning "way of living"), and I think we may just have a winner!

Victus Study Skills Review
Victus Study Skills Review

Victus Study Skill System is comprised of two parts - a Student Workbook ($20) and a Teacher Workbook ($40). The course is meant to be taught in five one-hour sessions. There are ten total lessons, and the Teacher Workbook prepares the instructor for how to introduce and teach the material to the student. Hence, it has about 15 more pages than the student workbook. Of course, it also contains all of the answers!
The Victus Study Skills System has four objectives: 
  1. To help students understand that there are specific steps and strategies in learning and study.
  2. To build specific skills and provide specific tools students can use throughout life.
  3. To help students develop attitudes that increase their abilities to use this system in their everyday life.
  4. To help students understand more fully their own role in their success.

Further, there are three Foundational Cornerstones:

  1. Where Am I Now?
  2. Where Do I Want to Be?
  3. How Do I Get There?

It is through these foundational cornerstones that the course is taught. In each cornerstone, students are led through a series of exercises asking them to consider their habits, goals, schedules, note and test taking strategies, etc. By the end of the course (which takes less than 6 hours to complete), a student should have a better idea of the study strategies that will work for her. Additionally, she will have learned *a lot* about organization and study skills.

Therese (12) and Victus Study Skills System

Therese is one of those kids who, much like myself, does not like to use school time on subjects that are not purely academic. She does not consider studying study skills to be academic; hence, I told her that this was more of an extracurricular activity, so she completed the course in the afteroons and evenings one week. Prior to her doing the course, I read the Teacher Edition so that I would know what she would be learning and so that I would be able to see when and where she might need help. I didn't think that she would need any guidance, and I was right. I had her bring her book to me each day after she completed two lessons so that I could check her work and we could talk about what she had done. Doing two lessons took Therese about an hour, which is right in line with what Victus suggests.

By the end of the course, Therese was reluctant to admit that she had really learned anything, but *I* beg to differ. By looking at her work in the workbook, I can definitely attest to the fact that she has picked up some new skills, especially in the area of note taking. Further, because the workbook required her to write out her schedule, she was able to see exactly where and how she spends her time, enabling her to see how to better allocate her study time and how to plan for interruptions and disturbances. These were things that she had never considered before, and they were things that I had never really thought to teach her explicitly before. That is the benefit of a course like this for homeschoolers -- or for anyone! There are so many things that we as adults just naturally do - ways that we compensate for the things that we know life will throw at us. Our kids don't necessarily have these skills yet, though. A course like this can begin to teach them this specialized skill set. So, even though Therese doesn't even realize what she has gained from this course, I do, and I know that she will be referring to her workbook in the months and years to come.

The Final Word

Victus Study Skills is a good program. It highlights some areas that most homeschoolers probably don't cover in their standards curricula and that most parents probably don't cover explicitly with their kids. It does have a pretty steep price tag, though, so whether or not you budget for it depends a lot on how much you think your child is in need of study skills help. Knowing it is available as an option, though, is definitely helpful as you head into planning season!

A bunch of Crew families reviewed Victus Study Skills, so click on the banner below to see what they had to say!

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  1. So nice that your daughter was at least cooperative. My 14 year old son needed this material, but it was like force-feeding him to get through the course. I plan to keep the books close by on my shelf to revisit, because when he's ready to listen I hope to review, since I'm not confident about what he got out of it the first time.

  2. If my son had been doing the work my experience would have resembled yours more! It's all about the different kinds of kids...thanks for reading!