Many families with teens may well be feeling the strain over the coming weeks as schools begin their examinations.
If you’re anything like me, these are the first exams that my 14 year old has ever sat! They mark the beginning of his next step in education, the path through to the senior years and his future direction.
And they introduce a new word into our family vernacular…REVISION!
What is Revision?
Although there have been numerous emails from teachers and dinner table conversations about revision, none of us have actually asked the million dollar question.
What exactly is revision ?
When I asked Biscuit this question, he was pretty vague, mentioning reading his notes and ‘stuff’!
Now it’s the Stuff of revision that I’m interested in!
Revision often takes place behind closed doors. We encourage our children to find a ‘quiet space’ to revise in, which is great, but that means revision is a hidden, subterfuge activity. When they emerge from revising you may ask how they’ve got on, but the chances of receiving more than a monosyllabic response are slim!
So what are the goals of revision?
- To Understand – do the concepts make sense?
- To Synthesise – can you make links between topics?
- To Recall – can you remember the information from 1st term?
- To Consolidate – can you see where you’ve come from and where your going?
- To Reflect – can you identify the gaps in your learning and plan to fill them?
Your child’s experience of revision is like a journey; with good planning and directions they can reach their destination in the time allowed with minimal anxiety.
Unfortunately, many children don’t have this experience!
They often can’t visualise their end destination, have minimal directions on how to get there and no idea how long it will take.
If they don’t know where they’re going how will they know when they’ve arrived?
That’s why talking about the goals of revision is a critical first step.
Print them out, stick them above their desk, keep them in sight.
This is their destination.
13 Steps to Successful Revision
So now you and your child are on the same page. Everyone knows where they’re going. Great! Now what?
The 13 next steps are about getting that journey underway.
I’m a great believer in a joint planning phase. This gives you and your child time to build a shared vocabulary, to realistically discuss what can and can’t be achieved, and positions you as a key figure of support on what can be a lonely road.
Together you need to:
- Make a plan – identify the hours available for revision and create an achievable timetable
- Know the assessment – know what areas are being covered in the exam so you can focus your revision
- Identify priority areas – all subjects are not equal, if you struggle with Science then allocate it more time
- Be time specific – allocate set times for revision and use a timer to create accountability
- Aim for 20 & 2 – revise for 20 minutes break for 2 minutes then repeat.
- Move about – when you have a brain break get out of your seat and move around to get the blood flowing again.
- Agree to turn off social media – distractions are death to revision, don’t get tempted.
- Include Rewards – treat social media as a reward after completing a session of revision.
- Ask questions – identify questions and ask teachers for clarification about exam format/timetable etc
- Reduce chores – delegate chores & pull together as a family to support the individual
- Include down time – ensure that revision stops at least an hour before bed, busy brain is a sleep drain!
- Prioritise sleep – bedtime may need to be adjusted to get enough sleep!
- Use a range of strategies -these are the directions to your destination, find out more in Part 2 of this series.
This discussion is about give and take, some of the suggestions may be met with resistance (#7 & #11) but the sweeteners (#8 & #10) often persuade your teen that you are working for their greater good!
Demonstrate that you’re on the same side; your actions will speak louder than words!
Part 2 of this Revision Series will explore the different strategies for revising and discuss which ones will benefit your child most.
Don’t Miss Part 2
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