Katy Cook, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
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In today’s society, schools require a great deal of curriculum jam packed into a single school year, thus forcing teachers to rush through material simply to get every topic covered. In the long run, this is often not helpful for students and ultimately will not allow them to absorb as much knowledge as they can. In an effort to ensure that students are learning to the best of their ability and retaining the information, teachers should be considering spending an adequate amount of time reviewing previous material before they jump ahead into more complex lessons. This one simple step may seem repetitive and unnecessary, but it has the potential to make a noticeable difference in one’s learning.

With a year in elementary school being so chalked full of crucial information that students may be referencing for the rest of their school career, it is essential that they are able to grasp a firm understanding before moving on. It is most beneficial for a student to be able to connect new information with previous learning, and by spending a small yet significant amount of time focusing on this idea, students will be able to better understand any new material they are being taught (Meyer). Subsequently, students who do not find themselves able to successfully recall the previous learning they have done are oftentimes more susceptible to falling behind and not completely grasping new concepts (Strangman & Hall, 2004). Therefore, it can be said that spending time going over basic learning will prove to not be a waste of time but rather crucial for effective learners.

Many schools follow a nine month school year starting in late August to early September and continuing through late May or early June. This gives students a three month period of break before starting their next year and students often spend this break lounging around and enjoying the nice weather and time off while they can. This undoubtedly takes a toll on their memory and students are likely to return to school in the fall, unable to fully recall everything they were taught their previous year. The retaining (or lack thereof) of previous learning has the ability to facilitate how the student will perform from there on out (Meyer, 2003). If a student finds themselves falling behind, he or she may potentially lose faith in themselves and continue to perform at a lower standard than they are capable of. In addition to the toll that this mindset will take on a student’s schoolwork, it could also be detrimental to the student’s attitude about school in general. Students who are constantly falling behind and finding themselves disappointed with their performance may develop a hatred towards the idea of attending school altogether. Loss of interest and motivation to do well academically are one of the major causes affecting student dropout rate and a teacher spending more time in the classroom reviewing material to make sure students are all on the same page could help the rate of dropouts decrease.

As Michael J. Prince and Richard M. Fedler explain, there are two main types of learning and both of them rely on the foundation of knowledge that a student has learned in the past (2006). In order to develop knowledge even further, it is exponentially important for the student to have a solid foundation and confidence in their previous understanding before they further their education. If the necessary steps in order to do this are not acted on, it may hinder a student’s ability to intake and process more complex knowledge for the rest of their life (Michael J. Prince and Richard M. Fedler). Elementary years focus on basic material such as reading, writing, and simple math and science that will be referenced and built onto in years to come. Elementary are the most crucial years in a student’s learning career and as a teacher it is expected and necessary to work to the best of your ability to provide a solid base of knowledge at this time. By focusing on reviewing all previous learning before advancing, teachers will be one step closer to providing the most effective and helpful education for their students.

Spending a considerable amount of time reviewing the material that students are already responsible for having learned may seem repetitive and potentially a waste of time, but in the long run this one simple step can play a big role in a student’s future schooling career. Not only will they be more likely to have a complete understanding of the previous learning, but they will also develop and grasp future ideas more efficiently. Having a solid understanding of material will allow kids to do better in school and has the potential to keep students from dropping out and developing a negative attitude about their learning.

Meyer, H. (2003). Novice and Expert Teachers’ Conceptions of Learners’ Prior Knowledge. In Wiley InterScience
Prince, M. J., & Felder, R. M. (2006). Inductive Teaching and Learning Methods: Definitions, Comparisons, and Research Bases.
Strangman, N., & Hall, T. (2004). Background Knowledge. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Feb. 2014