Wednesday, 8 March 2017

How to study effectively in 7th to 10th standard.

Most common questions in the mind of parents of 7th to 10th standard kids:
  • How to study for school and become topper?
  • How to make mathematics interesting?
  • How to balance studies and extra curricular activities?
  • How important are 7th-10th standard foundation coaching?
  • Which is the best coaching classes for foundation?
  • How to crack exams like IIT JEE?

I have tried to answer these and many more, in this blog.

There are many parameters, which govern the success of a student. Most of these parameters heavily depend on our planning. If you expect kids to excel then you need to work equally hard by taking few simple but very effective steps.

Many students, who seem to have a high IQ, have actually developed that over the years, by following a well planed strategy. I will discuss about such tried and tested strategies.

This blog brings along immense teaching experience of faculty team of Prime Academy Pune, which consists of famous author like Mr. D C Pandey and many IIT graduates, with lots of experience of IIT JEE coaching in Pune. Read it slowly and thoroughly. 

 Here are two very important points. 

a) Don't blindly run behind marks.  
Concentrate on fundamentals and concepts, marks will follow automatically. Many 7th to 10th standard kids score heavily without going into the depth of the concepts. They simply mug up formulas and definitions and vomit in examination. Their good score becomes a reason for parents to feel happy and proud. But do these marks really help students in the long run ? Will they be enhancing their logical skills ? Will their interest towards science topics increase?

Answers to these questions discriminate top students (IITians/top doctors etc) from those who couldn't do well despite getting good score in school exams.  Here we go. Check these two crucial facts:

Fact No.-1 Most of the 11th and 12th standard topics of science/maths,  are already introduced in 8th and 9th standard.

Fact No.-2, You will be surprised to know that 10th standard syllabus of almost all boards is easier than their respective 9th standard syllabus. Click here to know the correlation between courses from 7th to 12th standard.

These two facts are very well exploited by most of the students, who are called "genius". Or I should put it this way, many students have become "genius", after knowing and utilizing these facts to their advantage. Do these facts ring any bell in your mind ?

Lets compare two students, Mr. X and Mr. Y.  Consider a situation where Mr. X got good score in 8th and 9th by mugging formulas and definitions, without going in fundamental details and in class 10th he continued scoring good by cramming 10th syllabus. Since 10th topics are easier and isolated from 8th and 9th, he completely forgot his 8th and 9th learning. His parents are very happy as he has been consistently scoring good in 8th, 9th and 10th. They never realize, that something has gone wrong. The moment they enter class 11th, they find themselves in alien's situation. There is a sudden hike in the difficulty level, and "magic wand of mugging" stops working in this world. This syllabus demands indepth understanding. Though they had been exposed with these 11th standard topics in their 8th and 9th, but still, they are not able to get any help out of it, as they forgot everything. But why did they forget? Answer is simple ! Because Mugging doesn't help in retaining in the long run. Ratte wale topics bahut jaldi dimaag se nikal jaate hain.

Now lets meet Mr. Y, while studying in 8th and 9th, he had an eye over basic fundamentals, which helped to get better feel of the topics and in 10th, he continued with those 8th and 9th topics by investing 5-6 weekly hours. These 5-6 hours not only helped him to revise those topics, but also he became more confident about these topics. When these "well aware" students enter 11th standard, their confidence level is sky high, as they can easily connect 11th topics with their previously learnt topics of 8th and 9th (As per Fact-1)Now try to compare Mr. X and Y. Its pretty obvious that Y has got a whooping advantage over Y and if they continue to work equally hard, Y will supersede X, even if Mr Y is slightly low on IQ. For such students, 11th -12th /pre engineering and premedical exams like IIT JEE, AIMS NEET etc, become a cake walk as have done almost 30-35% of these topics, before even entering 11th. Gradually such students become so strong, that they start appearing superior than rest of the mob. They are appreciated by every one and in no time they gain the tag of "Intelligent, genius, topper, scholar etc". Other students who may be sharp, but adopted the wrong methodology, start saying "woh student to genius hai, that's why he tops the exams". Such people fail to understand the important question, "How did these students become genius ?". By now you must have started getting the clarity about the whole scenario. Let me give further insight of "Making of a genius"

Theory of "Once appreciated, always wants to be appreciated", works very well for these newly tagged "genius students" and they continue putting more and more efforts in the right direction. For others, learning tricky things may be taxing, but for these foundation batch students, that’s where their interest lies. Tag of "Difficult problems" by others, is perceived as "interesting problems" by these smart kids. Kind of pleasure they get from subject and "genius tag" is much more than what they get from "likes" on Facebook etc. Gradually they drift away from all possible distractions like Watsapp, Video games etc. Such students need not be pushed or scolded for studies, as the desire for excelling, comes from deep inside.

Having said this, I am not discouraging any student, who starts his studies sincerely in 11th standard. By their hard work and support, students do wonders even after starting their studies sincerely in 11th standard. Then what's the advantage for early starters ? Let me put it this way, there is nothing absolute and there is no precise time to start taking studies seriously. Mantra is simple, "Sooner the better". If you get to read this blog early, why waste time? Your chances will certainly increase, if you nail the correct approach early.

Role of Parents

After reading this section, few parents may curse me, for increasing the burden on their shoulders ;)
More than students (7th -10th), parents should realize that understanding and clarity of subject is much more important than scoring marks. Involvement of parents can be a big boost for their kids. They can gauge whether the child is going in the right direction or not? Is he understanding or simply scoring just by mugging? Many educated parents can easily brush up the basics of most of the subjects (till class10th) and guide their kids. My father was in the Indian Air Force and he used to read my Mathematics and Science books religiously for an hour in the morning before going to his office and  he used to sit with my younger brother and me, daily in the evening, for updation  and teaching. Till 10th standard we followed this routine. This very crucial initiative, helped me and my brother, in developing keen interest in studies, especially mathematics
Both of us did B.Tech from IITs and own prestigious firms. My brother (Anil Kumar) owns a reputed International Consulting Company, Redseer Consulting. I observed similar trend with many of my students. Sushant Sachdeva got AIR-1 (All India Rank) in IIT JEE 2004 and his brother, Prashant Sachdeva got AIR 75 in IIT JEE 2007. Their father Mr. SP Sachdeva took voluntary retirement and he was very much instrumental in his kids academics. List of such students who were successful and got a lot of support from parents is long. Click here to read more about such parents. .

Prime Academy has its own online database of videos and documents, which is available free of cost for students/parents. By the help of these videos, you can help your children. What if, parents cant monitor their kids because of any reason ? In such cases, these children may take the assistance of few genuine professional coaching institutes. Avoid getting trapped by hollow marketing and branding of few coaching classes. Joining an inappropriate class backfires very badly. Click here to know, how to choose coaching classes.

How to make studies more efficient and interesting ?

To make learning interesting and effective, show them more and more experiments. There are many very simple but very effective experiments which can change the way a student perceives his studies. Click here for many such experiments. For eg. a simple glass and candle experiment can prove that, oxygen is required for combustion. While visiting a historical places, explain and discuss about the historic, events and era. This will help them learn and retain some part of history books effortlessly.

Development of brain and its biological insight

Most of the brain cells are formed before birth, but most of the connections among cells are made during infancy and early childhood. These connections (circuit/pathway) are responsible for the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of a child. Early childhood experiences impact the development of the brain and influence the specific way in which the circuits (or pathways) of the brain become "wired." A child’s brain is a “work in progress” area. The outside world shapes its development through experiences. 

Those children, who are exposed to brainstorming case studies/puzzles or mathematical problems, develop better connections among cells and hence they gradually become more “intelligent”.  Those who don't use their brain, find it difficult to resolve complicated cases. Just to summarize, brain follows "Use it or Loose it". Later in this blog I will emphasize, how can subjects like mathematics and science create a platform for students to enhance their thought process.

Why do kids start hating few subjects like mathematics ?

In quest of getting good marks and due to the lack of proper resources, many times students follow the wrong method. They start using their memory power to remember the series of mathematical steps rather than using their analytical skills to find the link between those steps. Banking on memory is helpful, but it has its own limitations. You will be able to mug up 5-6 or may be10 steps, but one can’t keep on cramming hundreds of steps in his brain. Since he had started learning the subject with a wrong approach ie by skipping fundamental understanding, later on it becomes difficult for him to understand subsequent concepts (as they are dependent on previous topics), leaving them with no option, but to continue mugging (which becomes next to impossible after 15-20 steps). This whole process starts irritating them and they generate certain disliking for mathematics. If you are facing this problem then contact some experienced teachers/experts asap and follow their instructions. They can easily rectify your problems by various means. Sometimes kids don't find mathematical equations and huge formulae very appealing, in such cases these experts can reframe such concepts in the form of mathematical puzzles. Children find such puzzles very exciting and start showing keen interest in the subject. Click here to see few such mathematical puzzles. What is the right time to get in contact with such experts or joining some Foundation course ? Again I have the same answer “Sooner the better" :)

What should be the teaching methodology of a good Foundation course?

Selection of topics for foundation course, need to be done very smartly. The syllabus should have a comprehensive coverage of Mental ability, Maths and science, encompassing the syllabi of the major boards (CBSE, State and ICSE). At Prime Academy Foundation course, we have selected a set of topics from 8th to 10th standard Maths and Science books, which are covered in the syllabus of 11th and 12th standard as well. Apart from regular Maths/Science, we lay lots of stress on mental ability and logical reasoning as well. Games which involve some planning and strategies are also discussed. For eg, chess, wire puzzles, rubik cubes etc.

While teaching, we start a new topic with casual discussion about it's relevance in day to day life and avoid jumping on definitions and formula unless students get acquainted with basic ideas. 

Once students start developing a connection between the concept and day to day activities, we motivate them to put across their views. Even if there is slightest of connection between their views and "Laws and theorems", we gradually guide and twist their views, to match with views of scientists and mathematicians and tell them about the exact theorem/law/formulae. By the end of this phase we have actually taught them these laws. Since students can very well connect with the basics of the law and they have all good feelings about the concept, they are much more keen to get in the further details of that particular law/theorem/formula. This is the triggering point ! Now they easily go beyond the restrictions of their regular school syllabi. From here, there is no looking back. Their confidence is sufficient to induce a burning zeal in these young minds to stay at the top. A healthy competition is induced so that they continue putting more and more efforts.

By the end of the topic of "Thermal Physics" in 8th standard we would have covered 15-20% of heat and thermodynamics of class 11th !!! In case they continue with foundation course in class 10th, they get into further details of Heat and Thermodynamics (as per Fact No-2, 10th syllabus is easier than 9th) By now they virtually know almost all the basics of this topic, even before they enter 11th standard.  Gradually they supersede those "marks based toppers" very easily when this topic "Thermodynamics" is taught in class 11th.

After the clarity of concept, few simple illustrative examples are solved in the class, which help students to understand the application of the concepts. Gradually level of these problems is increased. By analyzing these twisted problems and other mental ability puzzles, a child’s mind gets stimulated, which helps him to excel in other fields like medical, commerce and even general debates on social political issues as well. In short, foundation course student’s mind becomes sharper.

Many times few discussions are left open ended, all students come up with different ideas and put across their points in the debate. All this helps in development of interpersonal skills at very early age. To ensure continuity, home-work assignments are given and monthly tests are conducted.

At Prime Academy Pune, foundation batch doesn't interfere with student's regular schedule. They are called for just 4 hours of lectures per week (sometimes 2 days for 2 hours and sometimes for 4 hours on Sunday). This helps them to continue with their extra curricular activities and regular academic routine.

For further details about Prime Academy Foundation course click here.

Other Benefits of Foundation Course

Since these students already have a good command over 11th standard topics, they can afford to work on other fine aspects like speed, short cuts and a very important aspect which is usually ignored, examination skills. Knowing concepts and scoring in exams are two different things. Many hard working students are able to excel in conceptual skills but lag in exam skills.  Click here to know more about exam skills.

Early start exposes them to competitive environment which inspire them to build competitiveness. Being competitive, motivates them to do better than what they did yesterday.  As a matter of fact most of the student joining this batch have become toppers of their classe in school and they do much better through out 11th and 12th because of extra confidence they gain over others.

However good you are, if you are in 8th standard then next year you have to be in 9th standard only as you have to follow the school system. But in Prime Academy, if we find a student exceptionally good then we upgrade these students to higher batches. Just Imagine a student who was doing good in  Mathematics, 9th and directly upgraded to 11th standard batch of Prime Academy, for Mathematics. He would have finished 12th standard syllabus in 11th only and then he has one complete year for rigorous revision. (customized course plan gives lots of flexibility)

Click here for the list of many such students, who were benefited by this up gradation policy.

Questions appearing in JEE Mains/CET papers in the past five years or more are not only from 11th and 12th syllabus but also from 9th and 10th. Yes it is true that the most prestigious national level JEEs put some 8th to 9th level questions in their papers. In JEE Mains, this is almost 5 to 10% of paper every year. In Prime Academy Foundation batch, we discuss many problems of IIT JEE mains and advanced and students comfortably solve these problems in 8th to 10th standard.

These Foundation courses help students not only excel in IIT, but also in other competitive examinations like

a. Maths & Science for school level exams.
b. Various Olympiads like Maths, physics, astronomy etc.
c. Other competitive exams like NDA, Bank PO, CAT etc.
d. Scholarship exams like KVPY, NTSE, MTS etc.
e. Board exams

Misconceptions about Foundation Courses 

Sometime students/parents have reservations against these suggestions of taking studies so seriously or joining foundation courses before 10th. Following doubts, pop up in their mind.

What is the necessity and importance of the foundation course?
Will it lead to overburden and make a child restricted only to studies?
My child may not take science stream, then why should he study details of technical subjects ?
Will it not be taxing for a student to do courses of foundation course during 8th to 10th standard, which is beyond the school syllabus?
Will joining foundation batch, hinder his personality ?
One can anyway start the IIT-JEE preparation from Std.XI. Then, why should a student undergo the foundation course.

Main reason of these questions is a romantic notion in the mind of many parents. They think that a student who is not going to coaching classes for foundation, would be developing skills and personality by joining guitar classes, or by practicing cricket/football or writing essays/poetry etc. But unfortunately in most of the cases, such students are wasting time on Facebook, WhatsApp Instagram, random surfing etc. And when they are on study table they are simply cramming/mugging answers (if they don't have basics). There is plenty of extra energy in them, which let them waste their time even after pursuing hobby and studying for school. This extra energy can easily be channelized in right direction for their benefit, if parents take some extra initiative.

How to Join Prime foundation

Prime Academy conducts foundation batch for 7th to 10th standard students. A students is asked to attend the first lecture before enrolling with the academy. Depending on the comfort factor and response of the student, he is permitted to register himself for the foundation batch. Such students are trained by the IITian brigade of Prime Academy till class 12th.

What is the right time to decide the future stream (science, commerce, humanities etc)

First and foremost, don't pressurize any kid to follow any particular stream, against his wish. If he has an inclination towards scientific experiments and logical problem let him do that and keep the option of science stream open. In case, if he enjoys essay writing and has an inclination towards general knowledge etc then, humanities might be a better option for him. Just try to observe and understand his natural flair. Once you understand his area of interest, start encouraging him for a suitable aim. This encouragement should be done in a very subtle way and you should be open for change in area of interest with time. Anyways all subjects till class 10th are same and you need not do any decision making for academics.

How much important sports and extracurricular activities are?

Sports and extracurricular activities will help you develop a good physique and interpersonal skills. Try to excel in at least one outdoor sports, if nothing clicks then athletics will also serve the purpose. Daily run/jog/brisk walk, do some push ups and pull ups. It doesn't even require a gym. For further details about physical fitness, click here. Try to do some extracurricular activity like singing, debating, dancing, painting etc. It will surely add a feather in your cap and make you more confident and a more vibrant personality.

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