How can I help my child with revision?
Tests and exams are never too far away! Success now could have a profound influence on your child’s education and career in the future. So, a lot depends on you helping your child to revise effectively. So, how can you help your child with revision? These tips and advice provide a starting point.
How can I make a revision timetable?
When it comes to revising, timetables are a good idea. Make a revision timetable together with your child and schedule sessions. Aim to cover all the subjects or areas of learning. It will help keep everyone on track, but don’t let it rule your lives. Be flexible. Talk things through with your child to find their areas of difficulty and plan sessions to address THEIR concerns.
You’ll have a different timetable for weekends, weekday evenings and holidays. Divide sessions to suit your child’s age – e.g. 30 minutes or one hour (and with breaks in between).
Here are some example timetables – feel free to make your own:
|6.30 pm||Science||Geography||Get ready for Guides||English||RE|
|7.00 pm||Break!||Geography||Girl Guides||RE||History|
|7.30 pm||Maths||English||Girl Guides||History||Geography|
|8.00 pm||Maths||History||Girl Guides||Geography||Break!|
|11.25 am||Lunch||Visit Gran|
|11.55 am||Lunch||Visit Gran|
The following will help you to decide what is best:
- A child’s attention span usually ranges from 10 minutes to 50 minutes. For young children, start with shorter sessions and increase gradually
- Children will revise longer and concentrate better if the activities are varied (reading, writing, drawing, talking, walking through things)
- Short, regular sessions are most effective but arrange them so that they don’t interfere with other family activities
- Test the times when your child is most responsive – try mornings, afternoons and evenings to discover what works best
- Make sure your child rests between sessions to avoid brain overload and don’t talk about exams in their break times!
- Breaks of 5 to 10 minutes provide time to reflect – which is a valuable part of the learning process
What different ways are there to revise?
Your child will benefit from learning different ways to revise and remember. Not everyone likes to read. Some of us prefer visual learning (by sight), some auditory (hearing) and others kinaesthetic (touch). Together with your child, experiment with what works best for them. Try various multi-sensory activities. Here are a few examples:
What are visual ways to revise?
Visual aids tap into the visual memory and are particularly useful to visual learners. Here are some visual ways to revise:
- Together, search out interesting diagrams, flow-charts, grids, colouring posters, infographics, spider diagrams, etc.
- Use the curriculum-based quizzes on Education Quizzes
- Download or create pictures and symbols to help them remember
- Create colourful, illustrated posters of key facts
- Use colours and highlighter pens to write key words; colour in relevant sections or underline important facts. Draw attention to parts of spellings in different colours
- Make a fridge list to display key topics in each subject
- Place post-its around the house with key information to be remembered
- Read and do practice papers
- Find relevant and interesting resources by searching the Internet. Use keywords that include the Key Stage, the curriculum area and the topic e.g. ‘KS3 English antonyms’
What are auditory ways to revise?
Some children are auditory learners. They learn best through listening and talking. Here are some auditory ways to revise:
- Discuss the subject, or quiz them
- Interview your child on their learning or in character – as if they are a historical character
- Make audio files or recordings of the subject by reading key facts aloud
- Make up songs and rhymes about revision topics
- If your child likes music, they could try listening to the BBC Ten Pieces while they revise
- Use mnemonics or memorable phrases, e.g.: ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ (taking the first letter of each word to give you the first letter of the colours of the rainbow). Personalise them
What are kinaesthetic ways to revise?
Some children need to move themselves, or lift and move objects around, to help them to learn. These are kinaesthetic learners learn best through physical movement or touch/feeling. Here are some kinaesthetic ways to revise: :
- Walk and talk. Go out for a walk and talk through their revision or subjects. Test their spellings etc. as you walk
- Set up different activities around the room, so they need to move to find out or write down answers
- Make jigsaws by cutting up texts or questions and answers to match up
- Use toys or moveable items to demonstrate learning – e.g. the D-day landings, using crockery and cutlery!
- Make revision cards to hold
- Use gestures or dance movements to help them remember
- Have your child write down key facts, answers and things to remember
How can I emotionally prepare my child for exams?
Remember – exams can be stressful. It’s important that your child gets enough rest and is in a good state of mind. It’s not just about knowing facts. Help your child to prepare themselves emotionally, too. When we are afraid or anxious our survival responses (fight, flight or freeze) kick in, and remembering becomes more difficult. A little adrenalin is good, but concentrate on making children feel calm, comfortable and confident. The following hints on emotionally preparing children for exams should help:
- If you join in with revision, this can help your child enormously – especially young children – but closer to exams, make sure they do some work by themselves so that they are independent
- Praise them. Don’t gush, and be brief. Confidence is key
- Reassure them that when they get things wrong, it’s ok. It’s all right to make mistakes – they are useful and a great way to learn!
- Teach your child breathing techniques to calm them down and lower their heart rate
- If they are anxious, teach them to take control by telling them to imagine that any butterflies in their tummy can be asked to fly in an arrow-formation, heading for success!
- Know when to push, and when good enough is enough
Should I bribe my child to revise?
One thing you shouldn’t do is bribe your children to revise. Bribing children to do well with the aid of cash or gifts is not helpful – it implies that you don’t trust them to learn without payment, and it doesn’t teach them to work hard for learning’s sake.
So, how can you help your child with revision? In many ways. Perhaps most importantly, no matter how well they do, reassure your children that you love them for who they are, not for what they achieve.