Exam season can sometimes be as daunting for parents as it is for children, especially when it comes to revision. Many parents desperately want to help their children with their revision, but just don’t know how. Fortunately, the team here at Pobble is made up of teachers and parents, who all agree that a supportive home environment can make a huge impact on child attainment—and happiness! Here are some of our best ideas – but if you have some of your own to share, we’d love to hear them!
1. Give them space
There’s no metaphor here – this is completely literal. When revising, children need a space within your home which they can claim as their own, a space where they know they can revise without interruption or disturbance, and even make a semblance of a mess without reproach. Most children like to use their bedrooms for this, but some prefer to designate a section of another room. Encourage your child to revise wherever they feel it is most effective for them, and then encourage them to keep revising there. Revising in just one place generally aids far better learning than revising in a multitude of places (this is called context-dependent learning).
2. Give them quiet
Leading on from the last tip, ensure that your child’s learning space is as auditorily comfortable as it is physically. The quieter you can help to keep that space, the more conducive it will be to your child’s revision. This is where some gentle nudging might help while your child is choosing their space – the further away from the communal television or computer-games console the better. Likewise, make sure the rest of your family know exactly where the learning space is, and to remain as quiet as possible whilst they are nearby. The knock-on effect can be that, by offering a respectful quiet to your child, they learn to give the same when other family members ask for it.
3. Maintain as positive a household environment as possible
Your monitoring of your child’s capacity to learn effectively should not just be limited to their revision space. Exam season is a time when children are more vulnerable to stress and anxiety than perhaps any other, so an atmosphere of forbearance and warmth will go far.
4. Consider temporarily suspending household chores
Your child will love this one (and their siblings will despise it, at least until it’s their turn)! Of course, as a child gets older, it may be helpful for them to learn time-management by keeping up with both their chores and their revisions, but even just the gesture can mean a lot. It shows that you’re ready to support them, and that in itself can be a significant confidence-booster.
5. Help them to produce a revision timetable
In primary age children particularly, memory is still developing, and organisation skills are often a work in progress. That’s why producing a revision timetable can sometimes seem like an insurmountable task for a child, and this is where your help can definitively come in handy. Producing an effective and well-structured timetable is a great way of ensuring that every subject gets the revision time it needs, and that certain exams aren’t left under-revised simply because they’ve been forgotten about.
6. Ensure they keep a good diet – all through the day
Here’s one which I’ve no doubt you do already – giving your children a healthy diet is one of the core tenets of parenting. But when it comes to exam season (and especially study leave, when your children may be home all day long), it’s sometimes prudent to keep a check on what sugars or caffeine your child might be consuming between meals. Conversely, some children feel the stress of exams so acutely that they lose their appetites and don’t eat enough.
7. Treat them, they deserve it!
It can be tempting to fill spare time with more revision, but it’s our job as parents to make sure there is balance in the day. Think up a couple of creative treats for your child, such as a chocolate bar, a half-hour session of gaming or free-internet time, a game of football… whatever you think would best reward them and help illustrate to them that their efforts are worthwhile.
8. Help them use the Internet safely
Internet rules vary from household to household, and far be it for us to dictate how you should use and monitor access in yours. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the Internet has become an increasingly prevalent (and helpful) revision tool, and it is very likely your child will need to use it. At these times, steer them towards the many websites that are genuinely constructive revision aids. Here are four we recommend: BBC Education, S Cool, Get Revising, and Exam Solutions.
9. Don’t force help, but offer where needed
It’s important to be generous with your help when your kid is stuck on a challenging problem, but try not to impose your own learning. Don’t forget that your children’s knowledge of sciences and design techniques and modern foreign languages might not match up to yours (sometimes, we’re all shocked by how much our kids have learned that we’ve already forgotten!). A respectful, openly curious debate, however, can be healthy when learning a new subject… particularly when it sends them back to their notes to find the fact or statistic which will prove you wrong!
10. Get them an early night before each exam and discourage any last-minute cramming
By the time your child gets to the exam themselves, there can be little you can do to help them except wish them good luck. However, the night before, you can definitely offer your support. An early night devoid of any last-minute cramming is generally agreed upon to be the best course of action before an exam. It may seem odd to encourage your child not to revise, but this is one case where it would very much be the right thing to do.
What study tips are we missing? Let us know on Facebook, where we always encourage parents to chat and share stories.