REVISION: HOW PARENTS CAN HELP!
GCSE exams can be extremely stressful for students and parents so we’ve put together some advice to help you help your child plan and follow their revision schedule as productively as possible. Your involvement will make a huge difference!
Having a revision plan is key to successful revision but it is often something that takes as long to think about doing as it does to actually draw it up and use it! There are many ways in which you can help your child plan their exam revision:
Keep a copy of your child’s exam timetable to hand: it’s easier to plan with this as a starting point.
Help them plan out a revision schedule: they should take responsibility for it and learn to prioritise their work, but supporting them to plan a realistic schedule is important. Depending on when it starts, each week may be different, particularly when the exams get underway.
Keep the plan realistic: to be effective and productive, it’s important to balance revision with leisure time. Revision with no time off will be counter-productive; flexibility is key – if there is something special in the social calendar, plan for it.
Timing revision sessions: These may vary, but sessions of 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time work well, with short breaks of approximately 15 minutes at the end of each one. Sitting down for hours at a time is counter-productive. Consider after school and weekends/school holidays and decide together what is reasonable. Remember to include attendance at school revision sessions. If they are completing a timed practice paper, help them with the start and finish times.
Plan for breaks: as above, whether it’s a short break or a longer one for meals/time out, make sure they are part of the plan. Ideally, breaks should be taken away from their study space, even if it’s only a short break: a change of scene is a good idea, as is exercise, such as a quick walk to get some fresh air and clear the mind. Keep favourite (but healthy!) snacks available and plenty of fresh water.
Help them to organise a work area: Having somewhere your child can sit down and focus solely on their revision is essential. Keep distractions (television, phones + social media etc) to a minimum. What resources will they need, eg sticky notes, coloured pens and highlighters, books and materials? If it’s an internet source, will they be able to avoid distractions?
Help or hindrance? Some students find that music helps them – discuss with your child what works for them and then review how it’s going. Likewise friendship study groups: some people prefer revising alone, but for others it can seem very lonely sometimes, so perhaps they can work in a study pair or group with friends – but review this process!
Time to chat: When they’ve finished their revision session, ask how it’s gone but don’t quiz them on it: agree to set aside a time when you’re ‘allowed’ to discuss how it’s going. This will also give you an opportunity to help them keep things in perspective and re-schedule where necessary without the whole plan falling apart. Stress and de-motivation are common – and also normal human reactions – but talking helps; remind them it will soon be over. Listen to reasons – but not excuses! Help them to focus on what they’ve achieved already; encouragement is crucial.
Sticking to it! Help them to keep to the timings they have agreed to, to avoid revision becoming stressful as they try to catch up. It is not the end of the world if the plan has to be adjusted. Rewards might help – agree on these in advance.
WHAT DOES REVISION LOOK LIKE?
It varies: different people revise in different ways, it will also often depend on the subject. Your child has had guidance at school about various revision techniques and will know what works best for them. Talk to them to find out how they plan to revise for each subject: textbooks? Completing worksheets? Timed practice tests? Online quizzes? Or note-taking? If in doubt, ask your child’s tutor or Progress Lead for guidance, and see our Revision Methods helpsheet for tips.
DURING THE EXAMS
This can be a very stressful time so a positive perspective is vital for everyone!
- Routines: Try to ensure they follow routines and avoid instability; remind them how hard they have worked
- Sleep: getting enough sleep the night before an exam is vital so agree a reasonable time for them to switch off, relax and then go to bed – revising until the early hours doesn’t help.
- Preparation: do they have everything they need for the next day’s exam? Make sure they have a pen they’re used to using and a spare. Is their calculator in the correct mode? Check the bag the night before and include lots of water.
- Breakfast: try to ensure they eat something healthy and energy-boosting – or at least take a piece of fruit with them. Sitting an exam on an empty stomach is not the best idea.
Be prepared for the outbursts: they are very likely to happen and these might be challenging weeks – wherever possible take a deep breath and decide whether now is the time to take the bait…
Take each exam as it comes: ask how it went but if they don’t want to tell you, don’t force it, and don’t react. If they feel they’ve done badly, listen and support: even if they think they didn’t answer a question well, it may be right!
- THE END IS IN SIGHT: make sure there is a celebration or treat planned for the end of the exams – for them and for you!