Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A TOS Review: The Victus Study Skills System

Josiah and I recently had the chance to review The Victus Study Skills System. This included Teacher’s Edition and Student Workbook.

I took my basics in college at a community college. Best decision ever. One of the classes that was required was called “Study Skills.” I can’t tell you how much that class benefited me. One thing I have always struggled with has been procrastination. The class helped me so much. I knew how to learn. I just needed to learn how to manage my time and use that time to study effectively.  I get too wrapped up in details. For example, my whole binder decorating problem. Does anybody want to start a support group for that? 

Recently, I decided that perhaps I need a brush-up on my “study skills.” After all, the concepts I learned weren’t merely meant to be contained in the classroom. Like all of you, I have a busy life. Sometimes I am overcommitted, overworked and overstimulated. Some of those bad procrastination habits have come home to roost. Most importantly, I am not modeling good habits for my son. 

Have any of you ever seen this look on your child’s face? 

study skills

Or how about this one? 

Dazed and Confused.  That’s all I’m saying.

Josiah is impulsive, creative and all over the place. However, he thrives in structure and likes to know what to expect. I have been on the lookout for ways to actually help him learn to effective study skills.  This product came in the nick of time.

What I Received Victus Study Skills System can be used in two different ways. I received the teacher-led option which uses the Teacher Edition ($40) and a Student Workbook ($20). The other option is the Student DIY Workbook which costs $25. I did not receive this product, but I thought I would mention it for those of you who have kiddos who would benefit from working through this course on their own. The Victus Study Skills System is intended for grades 5-12, but as always you can use your own judgment as to the appropriateness for your child. 

How It Works and How We Used It
The Victus Study Skills System is a 10 lesson program. It is encouraged that the teacher practices individualization when deciding the length of the course, but it is intended to be used an hour a day for a week or in 30 minute lessons over a period of 2 weeks. We took a little longer, because that’s the way we roll. 
The Philosophy of the Victus Study Skills System is based on 4 concepts. I’m taking this straight from the Teacher’s Edition.
1.     Zeal without knowledge is not good, but zeal with knowledge bears fruit.
2.     Results come from the process.
3.     Any system with all of its components must have an aim, or purpose.
4.     A unique and effective system of study has the greatest likelihood of aiding in success.
I absolutely love #2. I think our modern society and culture thrives on instant success or gratification. Many folks today don’t want to have to experience the process. They just want the results. 
All the 10 lessons in the program are centered on 3 questions.
Where am I now? (Lessons 1 & 2) – Students reflect on their study habits. They find out their learning strengths and discover how to utilize those strengths in their studies. 

Josiah had a good time taking the Learning Styles test. He's an only child and always ready to talk about himself.  This is the Teacher's Edition copy. I jotted down Josiah's answers for my own benefit.

Where do I want to be? (Lesson 3) – Students learn how to set goals. 
How do I get there? (Lessons 4-10) – Students are taught the skills they need for effective learning. How to listen, take notes, plan a day, how to study for a test and more.
The Teacher’s Edition contains all the material needed for each lesson as well as the philosophy of the program. It also has a great section of effective teaching methods.
Josiah really enjoyed working through this program. It was a bit more frustrating for me and not in the way you might think. The program itself is very well done. It is basic and practical. However, I am not sure if Josiah is mature enough to do the kind of self-reflecting required. When one of his goals is to beat all the missions on Lego Stars 392 times… I understand that he is simply being a boy. 
I can say that this is something that I will enjoy using as he grows. It also gave me some much needed insight into all the “rabbit trails” I’ve been taking concerning his schooling. I need prioritize my time more efficiently. 

We did have some success with Lesson 7 on Listening. I recognize that I am tuned out frequently. I love that we are encouraged to point out that “God gave us two ears and one mouth so we will listen twice as much as we talk.” We must be quick to hear and slow to speak. 

I also learned something else concerning myself. I learn easily. I don’t have any difficult paying attention (unlike certain boys, A-hum, that live here) and it is to move quickly through information and not take into account that I am teaching Josiah to learn as well as the 3r’s.  One tip in the Listening lesson was brilliant.  He had to put a check mark on his paper every time he found his mind wandering…you can imagine what that looked like. 
Another handy tool I really appreciated was on Organization. There is a whole page dedicated to Binders and folders. There are tips on how to organize each kind. I love that! I am going to implement some of those things. 
The Lesson on Test Taking (Lesson 9) was terrific. The method is PDCA.
Plan – The student listens to the instructions. They then look over the material so they understand what to expect and how to manage their time.
Do - The student is taught on how to take the test. For example, he does the easy questions first, etc.
Check The student should always, always check his work.
Act – If needed, the student must make any changes or corrections before turning in the test.
Having a plan to follow keeps the anxiety out of test taking. 
My Thoughts
Overall, I think this is a very effective program. I do believe that it is something that Josiah cannot master in just two weeks. My frustration occurred because I expected him to immediately become a first rate studier overnight. This will be one we will revisit time and time again. I’m glad we have it in our arsenal. I need to remember that the whole premise behind the system is that the student (Josiah) is learning for life. Not just cramming for a test. The Victus Study SkillsSystem is not simply for homeschooling families. Any student could benefit from the program.  
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