Rob Kerrison & Victoria Davies Jones gave us their top five tips for parents helping their children through the revision period
As a Cambridge tutoring agency, this is our busiest time of year. Revision stress is at the heart of so many enquiries we get from parents as we head into exam season, and quite often this is more their own anxiety rather than the students! One mother, who has two children doing both GCSEs and A levels said to me recently “I think it’s almost as hard on us as it is on them. How can we keep everyone calm AND motivated?”
“I think it’s almost as hard on us as it is on them. How can we keep everyone calm AND motivated?”
At Tutor Doctor, we understand the importance of nurturing the student and those supporting them. We’ve been running the business for 10 years now in Cambridge and, whilst there’s been lots of changes in the qualifications over this time, the advice we give to parents and students has become pretty consistent. Here’s 5 tips on how parents can help navigate their youngsters through the revision period:
1.Before you even begin, it’s really important to make sure the study space is adequate. Ideally it will be in a room that is light, well ventilated, with an appropriate desk and chair. If possible, it needs to be private and quiet. We have visited numerous families where students are trying to concentrate, whilst working in the main living area, with people walking through, television and other distractions. Generally, this does not lead to good revision!
2. As a parent you might want to lend a hand in devising a revision timetable. Mornings are usually the best time to work and study periods should last no more than 90 minutes at a time, with short breaks. You should aim to do no more than four sessions per day. After lunch is best spent exercising or relaxing, with study resuming later in the afternoon.
3. We suggest your student begins revising, by reading all relevant material in their notes or textbooks and then highlighting the main points. Transfer these points on to large flash cards (A5 size). Remember to make headings (with page reference numbers) and put no more than five points on each card. After further reading, or looking at online resources, consolidate the information on to ‘super’ flash cards, keeping the same headings and points, but in briefer form. If a student re-visits the material FIVE times, they will usually remember it and the super flash cards will serve as a prompt to more detailed recall.
4. Although young people can be keen to work independently, we often find that they do respond well to being tested, or to using their parents as the ‘audience’ to whom they can ‘teach’ the material they have just learnt. One of our top politics students taught her A level syllabus to an extremely good-natured younger brother, who became as interested in the material as his sister. She said that going over the topics and explaining them to him, helped her to achieve an A* grade.
5. Finally, it is time for everyone to show some grit! Anxiety can be contagious, and it is a good idea to keep things in perspective: the exams are not the goal in themselves, it is where they lead that counts. In the unlikely event that things go horribly wrong, teenagers need to know that you will be there to support them and there are always alternatives.
On that note, whatever ambitions you may have, do remember to reassure the student that their best is good enough!