As the Easter holidays approach, our consultant team are in the process of planning one-to-one Skype sessions, offering mentoring and revision planning support to prep school children, who will be taking the Common Entrance exams this June. Here are a few tips for parents, so you can offer similar support to your child at home:
Making sure your child has all their lesson notebooks, text books, revision guides, highlighter pens, paper etc to hand, before starting their revision saves huge amounts of time and stress. Running around looking for books or notes, as well as a mad dash to buy support books affects the general calm that will allow your child to achieve the most from their holiday revision time. Be prepared in advance. Check they have everything they need before departing for home on the last day of term to avoid un-necessary panics.
Adding structure to revision via a timetable enables children to give equal focus to all subjects, even the ones they like least. It becomes an encouraging and motivating record of all they have achieved during their revision time. Approaching revision without a timetable can make surviving the holiday revision weeks seem a daunting task for children and parents alike.
Once they have disappeared to their study space, it gives you the reassurance that they are working to a plan and not daydreaming, texting or watching YouTube. It allows you to support and ask how things are going in a specific subject, without appearing to nag.
- Colour coding the timetable gives the reassurance that all subjects are being covered equally at a glance.
- Timetables should have regular breaks, changes in subject and time for relaxation, fresh air, food and exercise.
- They allow for concentrated, focused use of time, as there is no dithering about where to start and with what subject.
- A timetable provides opportunity for including reward after working on a subject that is tricky, by spending time on a subject that is easier for each individual.
We all learn differently. However effective revision is about finding a way to get the keywords into one’s/your head, so they can be recalled easily, in answer to an exam question. Some minds work better in pictures and some via words or by writing.
Whichever way your child optimally recalls information, the keywords of each topic are best displayed in a format where they can be easily learned, without all the waffle words surrounding them in a text book or lesson notes. Hence, forming the key facts into mind maps, linking the key words to a central theme, is a useful revision tool. Equally, brightly coloured Post-it notes, stuck to the wall or a noticeboard, can work well to list and recall key-facts such as dates and names in History.
Sleep, relaxation and food
Add treats like cinema trips or meeting up with friends to the timetable as a motivating factor to look forward to as a reward for all the hard work. Sleep is also important to recharge the batteries, before the hectic summer term starts. Allow plenty of time for sleep, as well as eating good food, keeping hydrated and having access to healthy snacks while studying.
Add gadget time to the revision timetable during breaks. Then remove the gadgets all together while revision is underway. Taking away the temptation to give them a quick glance, answer a Snapchat or WhatsApp, will lead to far more effective work-time.
ISEB, the examination board which writes the CE exam papers, has an excellent range of revision guides, many of which can be purchased via Amazon. CGP books also produce a range of books which cover the Common Entrance Curriculum. These do a good job of summarising topics into the main key-words and facts, so they are a great way to focus revision on the key points to learn. They are particularly good if English is a second language for your child or if your child finds reading long pages of words difficult.
I have added a few suggestions via useful links, which you can click to purchase via Amazon below:
Timed exam questions
Once your child has revised a topic, practice questions are the best way to test their knowledge and ability to apply it to a question, within the time allowed. You can find books with practice questions available via Amazon.
A few are suggested below: