5 simple strategies for note-taking

ByAmanda Morin

Note-taking doesn’t come easily to all kids, especially those who struggle with organizational skills. Here are some simple note-taking strategies for you to review with your child.

The split-page method of note-taking (aka the Cornell method)

Have your child draw a horizontal line across the page two inches from the bottom. Then about two inches from the left side, your child should draw a line from top down to the horizontal line. This splits the page into three sections: a narrow column, a wide column and a box on the bottom.

The wide column is where your child can write down the main points of the teacher’s lesson or the text. After taking those notes, your child can use the narrow column to note questions and key vocabulary. And in the box, your child can write a summary of the lesson.

The 2-6 method of note-taking

Your child should begin by writing the name of the class and the date on the top of the page. Then, your child can trace the vertical red line on the left-hand side of the notebook page to make two columns — one that’s two inches wide and one that’s six inches wide.

The wide column is for taking notes during class. Afterward, your child should write the most important points in the narrow column. Then your child can flip the page over and use the back to take notes while reading the textbook chapter on the same topic.

The outline method of note-taking

The outline method of taking notes asks your child to divide what the lesson or reading into main ideas, subtopics, and details. This helps students figure out the relative importance of each fact or idea.

Your child should begin on the left side of the page and write down the first main idea. Underneath the main topic, your child can list subtopics, leaving room to add details about each one.

The bullet point method of note-taking

This method is similar to the outline method, but not as structured. Your child can choose a symbol to use before a main idea (such as #). Students also need a symbol for subtopics (such as +) and one for supporting details (such as *).

As your child takes notes, using those symbols will help make it clear which pieces of information fit together and how. See above for an example of how the symbols work.

The mapping method of note-taking

The mapping method of taking notes is a great system for kids who tend to be visual learners. Your child writes down a word, phrase, or main idea anywhere on the page. As the teacher lectures, your child continues to write down key ideas.

Then your child draws lines to connect things that go together. The page will look like a map because many of the ideas will be connected to each other. When reviewing the notes afterward, your child will be able to see how a main idea leads to a subtopic and then to the details that support the subtopic.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.