Monday, April 7, 2014

Victus Study Skills System - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

As a home schooling parent, one area I have had difficulty with teaching my kids actual study skills. So when I learned, in February, that had been selected to review the Victus Study Skills System products, I was very pleased.

I received in the mail the Victus Study Skills System Student Workbook and the Victus Study Skills System Teacher Edition.

I initially took time to familiarize myself with the System by looking through the Teacher Edition. I worked my way first through an Introduction that included a "Reflection by the Founder", The Course Aim, a Preview of the Foundational Cornerstones, Objectives and  Assumptions. Then Section 1 begins with an explanation of the "Organization of Teacher Edition" which explains that the manual is divided into three sections. Section One includes information to help you understand the course. Section Two provides the lessons you will use with the student. Each lesson includes the "purpose", "preparation", and "procedure" to be used in the lesson, with at "Student View" pages. Section Three provides an Appendix with supplemental materials. I found it very helpful that the "Student View" pages literally say "Student View" right on them, so I know what my student is able to see, as opposed to information which I have that my student ("Miner") does not have.

The Student Workbook begins with the Table of Contents and then The Course Aim. The student fills out a "Study Skills Personal Objective" sheet and then jumps into Lesson 1. The Course, as the student sees it, is divided into three "Foundational Cornerstone"s (which is kinda funny, since a building would have four corners -- but maybe that's just me...). The first cornerstone has the student evaluate "Where am I now?", looking at his study skills, learning style (called "Learning Strengths"), and techniques to help the student learn best with his learning style, as well as suggested aids for his particular learning style.

The Student's second section, Cornerstone Two, focuses on "Where I want to be". It works to get the student to create a mission statement, and to set goals and priorities. 

The section called Foundational Cornerstone Three focuses on "How do I get there?". This section teaches time management, helping the student learn how to break time down to a weekly schedule and a monthly schedule. (Seriously, I needed but did not have these skills when I attended college!) The Victus Study Skills System teaches the student organization,  preparation before beginning to study, where to study, how to study, with instruction on how to be an active listener, taking hints, personal shorthand, and test preparation. It contains little stories to help explain various aspects of the program, and is just a great system.

I am currently home schooling my third student. My first student (graduated 2004) had to learn study skills as best she could on her own -- I didn't teach them to her. My 2nd student (graduated 2007) had a learning disability, and in a special program to help her cope with her learning disability she was taught many of these skills. Nevertheless, I personally have never integrated these skills into my teaching methods. I'm sure it is related to the fact that I didn't come by these skills easily myself, and I still struggle to implement them in my own life let alone impart them to someone else.

The word  Victus comes from Latin, and it means "a way of life". So the aim of the Victuss. There is a lot of information in this package. To accomplish this program well in only five da Study Skills System is to teach the students a way of accomplishing success in their academics, and in life. The course can be taught over a five day period, in one hour sessionys requires a lot of focus and a motivated student. 

This program can also be taught over ten days
in one-half hour sessions. The lessons are not clearly marked so that you have a sense that you stop at "this" place and begin next time at "that" place. In my opinion, the program could easily be spread out over the course of a year even. The goal for us, as homeschoolers, is to help our students learn these skills. We don't often have the mindset that our goal is to get a certain program done in a certain amount of time, but rather a mindset of sticking to a certain subject until we know the student owns the skill before moving on.

In using the Victus Study Skills System in my own home I found my student unenthusiastic. (If you have been following my blog recently, you know this is an issue I've been having in all subjects recently, so please don't interpret this as an issue with this program.) To teach the material I had to literally sit beside my student and read it out loud to him, read him the questions, and write the answers down for him. (He was resistant.) He finally began cooperating, at least mentally, and we began to cruise along (...oh, like sap in the winter, maybe...).

We confirmed what we had suspected about his learning "strength", auditory (note above paragraph that I am reading the program aloud to him... Hmmm...). We discussed methods and techniques that can help him learn, and ways for him to study and test that will best help him.

I tried to get him focused to discuss goals, but his mind was just not really looking forward well into his future. He was finally able to agree that he wants to go to college, get a good job, marry, raise a family, own a house and a car or two. These are still such general goals that I decided it would help him better for now if we focused on something closer, that would seem more immediate to him.

Miner is a Boy Scout, and one of his goals in Boy Scouts is to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can attain. So I was able to help him focus in on the stair-step process to get to Eagle Scout, and we used that as our focus. My son had gotten to a place in his current rank where I had begun to conclude that he wasn't going to reach a rank promotion by the next award ceremony (June). Since the troop is dormant during the summer, except for summer camp, that meant that he might not be able to advance until sometime in September or October. Getting stuck in this way in this program can become like a wheel stuck in a rut, where it becomes difficult to see the way out. The Scout can become discouraged, and then he just doesn't find the motivation to work because he can't see a way out.

Using methods and techniques in the Victus Study Skills System, I helped him isolate where he is, where he is going, and how he can get there. I created a chart for him showing him the merit badges he is working on (he needs six done for his advancement, and four are done). I marked off in highlighter the requirements he has finished on each merit badge, so that it is clear what is still needed. He could instantly see that his Astronomy Merit Badge had only one requirement left. We opened the Merit Badge Book and read that requirement, and he took off to do the required work. He got the counselor to sign off on the requirement, and that badge is finished! And he knows the other things he needs to complete for his advancement, and he is now once again on his way. He has gotten out of his rut.

As I said, this program is packed with great information, things that I want my son to learn, integrate, and own for life. Doing Victus Study Skills System in one or two weeks was, for him, not the best plan. There are so many skills discussed here that I didn't even mention -- skills that are not new to us as adults, but that our kids don't necessarily pick up without instruction: setting goals, being specific; creating an action plan; evaluating their use of time; creating a schedule; considering his study environment; taking notes; creating sudy cards. I'm telling you, this program is packed!  Fortunately, after our first go-through, we can now go back and take it at a slower pace, which will suit Miner better.

The Victus Study Skills System is a product that can be useful for all ages of students, but
more teacher involvement is required with younger students. The books are most appropriate for 5th to 12th graders. Each book is a softbound 8-1/2"x11" spiral. The Teacher Edition has 82 pages and the Student Workbook has 65 pages, several of which are blank pages for the student to take extra notes on. This is not the type of program that you should try to "wing it" with just the student book. Nor do I think the Teacher Edition would be sufficient alone. Just get both. This program can be taught to groups or to individual students.

The  Victus Study Skills System Teacher Edition is priced at $40, and the Victus Study Skills System Student Workbook costs $20. Take a look at the Table of Contents of the Student Workbook and you can see all the topics in this program!  You can also look at a Sample Page from the book.

I received a copy of the Victus Study Skills System Teacher Edition and a copy of the Student Workbook to use with my student in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation, and was not required to write a positive review. See full disclosure below. To see more reviews by other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, click the box below.

1 comment :

  1. Nice review, Diana! I'm so glad that Miner was able to connect the goal-setting with his badge work. Congrats to him on his Astronomy badge!

    And also...I'm envious of your field trips! :)