Coping with revision and exams
Tension is rising slightly in our household as exam season is fast approaching and my daughters are deep in revision. A couple of years ago I had my son doing A-levels and the my daughter preparing for GCSEs. We all survived but I did learn a few lessons myself during that time, in my supporting role.
As a parent, by the time your children are 15 or so, you will probably be moving into the role of consultant rather than manager and your new skills will come into their own during revision time.
So it is more a question of being around, making sure they are eating balanced meals and getting enough sleep, rather than endlessly nagging them about revision. They may appreciate the offer of practical help: more revision cards, revision books, highlighters or past papers, BBC Student Life has some useful revision planners too.
Suggest they take a break and get some physical exercise once in a while. My son found it really beneficial going outside and practising his basketball skills for 15 minutes every so often or going for a run round the block.
Professor Sergio Della Sala from the University of Edinburgh, gives this advice: "The only way to really learn is to put the book away and test yourself, or test your buddy, or better yet, explain what you have just learnt to somebody else - a victim - younger brother, sister, your granny." My daughter has done some productive revision with friends, testing each other on chemistry and helping each other out if they don’t understand something.
If your son or daughter is taking an oral exam in a foreign language, it can seem like a real struggle preparing as often the spoken aspect of a language can take second place in the classroom. Why not listen to podcasts in the relevant language or listen to a radio station from that country? Try BBC Languages site or GCSE Bitesize for some useful audio content. This can be a good way to get immersed in the language and practise speaking skills.
A BBC News Magazine article reminds us of how little students actually learn things by rote, apart from times tables and lines for a school play, they are no longer required to learn poetry by heart like French school children have to. One time learning skills do come into play is for GCSE and A-levels. Scores of students across the UK are writing out revision cards and scanning them at any available opportunity.
Jo Lamiri refers in an earlier BBC Parents Blog, to different types of learners. Identifying what type of learner your son or daughter is, can be really helpful when it comes to revision. This can be the key to effective revision time.
There are a number of useful resources online. GCSE Bitesize is always a good place to go for some online revision. Also the Radio 1 Advice page has some useful hints and tips as to how to handle study-related stress.
Once the exams are over, things can seem a bit flat. So it may be worth encouraging them to think of some way to mark the end of exams, going to see a movie, sorting out a trip away or just hanging out with friends. Even if the results won’t be out for a while, it’s a great achievement simply having come through the other side and it’s something to celebrate!
Fiona Holmer works on the BBC Parents Blog.
Check out the BBC Learning Scotland blog on exams.