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Exams are undoubtedly nerve-racking for children and their parents. Fraught mums and dads watch over their children during the holidays or 'study leave' and wonder to what degree they should be helping. So, with that in mind, here are our top ten tips on how to help children to revise effectively.
Encourage your child to make a revision timetable – and stick to it.
Make sure your child has a quiet space to work, with no distractions.
Help to find the method of learning and retaining information that works best for them. It could be reading and making notes, using flash cards or Post-it notes, looking at video clips, playing back recordings of their own voice, mind mapping or perhaps a mixture of these. A clutch of youtube videos produced for Radio 1, 1Xtra and BBC Bitesize is full of useful ideas.
Check the exam specifications. All exam boards publish these, along with practice papers and mark schemes too.
Search out revision apps and online resources – such as BBC Bitesize and Gojimo – to clarify areas your child feels less confident about. Teenagers sometimes concentrate on their best subjects and leave their weaker ones till the end but it is a good idea to tackle weak areas early on.
Be around as much as possible. You don’t have to be at their side 24/7 but children like parents taking an interest in their revision (but not taking over).
Keep the kitchen cupboard stocked with delicious food. When the going gets tough children really appreciate a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits or their favourite meal.
Encourage them to break revision into manageable chunks and to take regular breaks in between revision sessions. It’s far more effective to do 30 minutes of successful revision – rather than plough on for hours on end and not get anywhere. This is backed up by research by academics at the University of Sheffield who found that learning is more effective when spread out over stretches of time.
Exercise, fresh air, healthy food and lots of sleep are crucial.
Most important of all, help your child to keep everything in perspective. Remind them that the better they prepare and the more confident they feel in their subject knowledge the less stressed they will feel when the exams start. But by the end of June the exams will be over and it will be the start of the long summer holidays.
If you think your child might benefit from tuition during the run-up to exams, have a look at The Good Schools Guide's pages on tutors.
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