Is your child taking an exam this year? Are they worried about how to revise? Do they even know where to start? Do you know how to help? Well, take a breath, we do not want any anxious children or parents at this crucial time. We want to work with our children in a way that is useful, calming and productive. We can help our children through their exams with these awesome top tips for revision listed below.
This year will be the first year one of our children undergoes such crucial exams. The debate about how crucial and critical these exams are, is for another day and unfortunately, like it or not, we do need some level of education for future employers to determine our worth and show them our potential! So, with that in mind, as parents we have chosen to go down the route of
“I want my child to do the best that THEY can do.”
As long as our children can say that they tried their best, we are happy with that, it means that the outcome is the best for them and for that we can all be proud. BUT, how do they do their best, how can you help them? Working in education has definitely helped me with some inside, useful information to be able to share with you all and create this awesome top tips list. It always shocks me how many children rock up to an exam yawning away claiming to have finally finished the most difficult level in the whole world the previous night on a games console! Anyway, each to their own, I just want to give our children the best foundation for life, with that in mind the most useful revision advice I use and can give is…….
1) Prepare a work station
Hanging off the edge of the bed, with poor lighting using a half eaten pencil writing on scraps of paper is probably not the best way your child could revise lets be honest. I’m not saying go out and spend lots of money of fancy stationary and new desks etc, just think carefully about what you have, whats best to use and then add to that.
Make sure there is good lighting and a solid base to write on. This solid base could be a table, a fold up dinner table, a laptop tray, just something that is stable and easy to write on.
Equip them with the stationary they need, most of it you probably bought at the start of the year and if they are anything like my kids, its just lying down the sides of beds or in a beautiful new pencil case, not used at the bottom of their school bag! General things like; pens, paper, pencil, ruler, eraser, calculator, colour markers/pencils, folder for notes are all that is needed really. Some subjects may need specific equipment so check with your child or school.
Another thing to consider is noise! We just want the best for our kids don’t we, so getting them to study at the kitchen table during dinner prep is not a great start, just be mindful and get the family to help and compromise too eg. no TV till after study time. Awesome top tip; Switch off their mobile phone during study time!!
2) Study guide books
Study guides for individual subjects are a great starting point for many kids when preparing to revise. Sometimes when they look over their whole 2 years of school work and have to revise from it they panic. What does that say? That doesn’t make sense any more? What did I mean there? The kids don’t write for revising, they write what they need to at the time. Using a subject revision guide book offers them a chance to use their own notes for reflection and make more sense of them. Many of the revision guide books have exam style questions in, test examples etc and so the children can really put their skills to test. Local book stores have them available, as do online retailers such as Amazon. Awesome top tip: Ask the school what they recommend and/or which exam board is being used. You can then buy a specific guide for that test.
3) Mix it up!
No teenager is going to want to sit there and stare at books day after day, I know I wouldn’t want too. So “mix it up,” add in some You tube videos about their subject, create a quiz for them and have a family quiz night, create a mind map, go to a museum or art gallery, anything that mixes it up and helps them learn in a different way. Stick post it notes with quotes on around the house, flash cards are quick and easy to use and many subjects even have revision apps available too.
4) Study buddy
Get your child a study buddy, someone who is reliable and keen to revise too. Meet the parents, your probably good friends already, get together and discuss your expectations for study time. A good idea is to arrange a day out or treat as a reward for study time too, nothing major, a trip to a park, a kick about outside or hot chocolate with marshmallows, anything away from revising.
So why a study buddy? Study buddies offer something different to us parents and revision guides, they were there when they were taught the information. They usually have a better way of explaining a concept in a way that their friend understands and being able to explain something is a great way to prove you get it! Being someones study buddy gives you confidence too. It makes your child feel confident knowing that someone else is in the same boat as them. It boosts their self esteem being able to teach something new too and that in turn boosts the other child as they feel equal. Revision is about empowering our children to grow to their full potential and helping others at the same time makes them feel empowered.
5) Quick short notes
Although we all learn and recall things differently, re-writing out pages and pages of information isn’t usually a good way to revise because children will struggle to recall the specific information they actually need in a block of text. It can be difficult to decipher what information is important and what is just fluff! Quick short notes are much easier to write, to recall information from and share with friends for quick fire test questioning. We bought our son some index cards on a ring, they have different sizes and colours too! These ones are from Wilko (UK).
6) Create a timetable
Set expectations from the start. Create a realistic timetable together, a week at a time, and get them to stick to it. Doing this a week at a time makes it seems achievable, adaptable and that they accomplished something at the end of it. You can make it as simple as you want with just the subject name, start/finish times and break times or you can make it really specific and set wake up times, activities in between, breaks, snack time etc. You will know what works best for you and your child, one size does not fit all!
A timetable makes it all seem a little less overwhelming too, as both you and child knows what is expected, where and when. It also helps to manage the time available and hopefully stop those last minute panic situations of cramming the night before. Awesome top tip; don’t forget to schedule in breaks and down time, these are just as important as the actual revising itself!
Now I could tell that you must provide your child with the most healthiest snack and only water to drink, 100% organic items blah, blah, blah, but you are a grown up, you know what is acceptable for your child. Obviously I’m not going to provide litre bottles of fizzy pop and super large bars of chocolate to my son, he’ll be buzzing and revising would be a waste of time but as they say
“a little of what you fancy does you good.”
My point with this piece of advice is that children don’t always recognize hunger and thirst signs until its too late, they get irritable and tetchy which is no good for studying. Snacks and drinks help to keep their energy levels up, keep them alert and a quenched brain is much better at retaining information.
Now I must admit when I say this to my son, he’ll just give me that look as if to say “are you serious?” But I’m not talking about starting something new or starting a new exercise regime, you can if you want too, I just mean get out! Get out of the house for a quick walk, a kick about, stroll in the park, stand in the garden for fresh air etc. For my son it’ll just be carry on with his karate (scheduled in on the timetable as this is still a priority during study time) and maybe he will take on extra dog walks, just something to keep him moving and in the fresh air. Being out in the open, fresh air brings you back to neutral, back to calm, it livens up the senses and a little bit of vitamin D sunshine is good for the soul and mood!
In the beginning your child may think that revising for long periods late into the night is what you do.
It’s what they usually see in the movies isn’t it, but we know that this is the worst thing to do as they need sleep. Most teenagers, like my son, don’t have a problem with this on the weekend but its all about balance and its the weeknights that can lead to the most problems. 8-10 hours is the recommended number of hours of sleep to be at your best, so your child should aim for this.
Something else I learnt recently is to NOT revise just before bedtime, it sends your brain into overdrive and when you lay down to sleep it can be difficult to switch off and get the quality sleep needed. So stop at least an hour before, do something else and get a good nights sleep.
Bath and bed is a good way to calm down, even my teenage son loves a good bubble bath. You could sneak some lavender bath bubbles into the bathroom for them to use, it’ll really help sleeping.
Perspective, noun: a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view
A point of view, not the end of the world. Keep everything in perspective!
We all know what exams results can do for our kids in the real world but at the end of the day, they are just exams. They can be retaken. You can get a job without top grades and work to the top of the ladder still. The most important thing in the world is your child’s well-being. Having them anxious, stressed and fretting over exams will do no good for them or you. Keep this time calm and in perspective. Make it fun and light-hearted. Make it purposeful and relevant. Above all, let your child know that you are there for them, they can talk to you about anything and that this is just a small part of their whole life, its just another stage to get through, like learning to walk!
The most awesome top tip of all…..
Most importantly, just be there for your child, give them the tools and skills listed above to start revising but essentially just be their support system. Be the rock they need when the tears starts to flow and they question themselves, offer an ear of sympathy and words of encouragement and most of all give them a hug.
I hope you find this guide really useful, I will certainly be referring back to it from time to time and if you have any golden nuggets of advice, please leave a comment below.
Jemma Louise Mc xx