Five ways to help your kids kick-start revision

Welcome to the Parents' Toolkit

Whether it’s GCSEs, National 5s or any other qualification, exam time can be unnerving for parents as well as those actually taking the papers. It’s natural for adults to worry when they see their teens grappling with mountains of notes and revision timetables.

But with a little bit of planning, there’s no need to panic. Sometimes getting hands on is the way to go, other times it’s about giving your student space - here are five ways mums, dads and carers can do their bit in the run-up to exam season.

Help them with planning

No one wants exams dates to come as a surprise! It's a good idea for those taking exams to make a timetable that incorporates key dates.

As well as the exam dates themselves, students should work out how much time should be spent studying their subjects. Each should get its fair share of study time, but if there are weaker or stronger ones it may be OK to allocate time accordingly. It's helpful if the timetable is broken down into short, regular study periods - these are much better for retaining the information than one-off cramming sessions which last hours.

Any timetable worth its salt will definitely include breaks and treats! Brains and bodies need a rest - this will actually help to absorb all that information and rewards are a great way to create targets to work to.

Create a quiet space

Depending on the space available in your home, you could consider creating a special area where your child can focus on their studies in peace and quiet. If this isn’t an option, investigate accessing this at a local library or school.

If you want to make their bedroom into this quiet space, make sure it is rid of the many distractions that may be in there. Experts have found that an untidy work space can be detrimental to the study process, so it’s a great excuse to keep the area neat. But don’t be too harsh on your teen if it gets a little messy as that won’t help with any exam stress.

This Parents' Toolkit article gives tips on how to transform a smaller space for study or work

Set yourself involvement boundaries

However much you want your child to do well, you’ve got to know when to leave them to it. Studying is important, but you don’t want them to feel extra stress by what they see as you ‘hassling’ them. Give them space to find their flow, let the revision seep in and don’t fire a barrage of questions at them over study progress.

Make sure they know you’re a ready shoulder if they need to talk or raise concerns. If your child does feel the strain right before an exam and happens to take it out on you, just bite your lip. You can deal with your feelings on another day, it’s best to let it go and allow them to focus on the exam.

Keep them fed

We all need fuel to keep us going but during the revision periods it’s especially important to make sure your child is getting the right sort of food.

Snacks that contain plenty of Omega 3, such as oily fish, help with concentration. A good time to dish out the sardine sandwiches! Any food packed with antioxidants can also aid concentration - look for fruit, especially berries, to help out here.

Bananas are recommended too. They contain dopamine which can boost both motivation and concentration.

Download the Bitesize app!

For 14 to 16 year-olds taking exams in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the free app allows users to select the subjects and exam boards relevant to them - it contains subjects for GCSEs, National 4, National 5, Higher and TGAU.

The Bitesize app can take users through some trickier exam subjects step by step.

There are flashcards, video clips to explain some of the trickier elements of each subject and quizzes for testing.

Have the app on your phone and you can test your child using flashcards and also find out more about the subjects they’re tackling.

If your child knows they’re not going through exam season alone, revision periods can become a lot less stressful.

Parents' Toolkit
Exam essentials: Summarising information
What not to say to your kids during exam season
Five ways to motivate your teen to study at home
Exam stress - How can parents help?
Careers help for your child