The Easter Holidays are now upon us and I do not envy any parent out there with children sitting public exams this summer. Having to drag your teenagers out of bed is hard enough at the best of times but dragging them from their slumber to do any form of revision is a painstaking process that certainly requires more than the one double espresso!
Right about now your hearts are sinking at the thought of trying to tie in a well-earned break for you and your family alongside some serious revision. With most schools sending their pupils home at the end of term with file upon file for every subject under the sun, and encouraging them to do at least 5 hours of revision a day, it is a small wonder that they don’t all crash and burn before the first Cadbury egg has hit their tiny tums.
Don’t worry, I’m with you. My 13 year old is sitting her 13+ Common Entrance this summer which in the grand scheme of public exams really isn’t worth losing much sleep over. However, whether your child is sitting common entrance or embarking on GCSEs A-Levels or IB you may be about to sample your first taste of real home revision.
So here are some friendly tips to help you along the way.
Planning – Ensure your child knows which days are going to be Revision Days (or half days for your younger revisers – I find mornings easier than afternoons) and be sure to schedule several non-revision days over the Easter Holiday period. Try and stick to an achievable timetable of set blocks no longer than school lessons because that is how long your child has been conditioned to concentrate. A quick “Let’s see how much you can do of this topic in the next 30 minutes while I get on with some emails” is a great starting point and before you know it that 30 minutes has turned into a really productive hour and half!
Siblings & Distractions – Try and allocate revision time when younger siblings are out of the way if possible. Hearing brothers and sisters playing outside or watching television is a huge distraction because your young revisers will feel they are missing out on the fun and feel that having to do school work is “unfair”
Food & Plenty of it – A healthy hearty breakfast goes a very long way so treat them to fruit smoothies, pancakes and any other breakfast family favourite and ensure your cupboard is also stashed with a melange of healthy energy building and brain feeding snacks to tempt them throughout the day especially for your older teens.
Fresh Air & Exercise – Nothing beats it. If you own a dog, then make them walk it - at least twice a day – The dog will be thrilled even if your child isn’t so keen and if they enjoy a particular sport then don’t deny them that time because they will revise much better once they have burned off some energy.
Electronic Devices – Children nowadays rely on their devices as revision aids but encourage sensible use of time on-line as it is an obvious distraction. There will be an element of their revision which will not be IT based so insist they leave their devices elsewhere, just for a couple of hours each day while they put their nose into their actual books or complete practice papers and I would also advise letting them keep their headphones - your youngsters are much more used to working listening to music than we were.
Revision Buddies – It is more fun revising with a friend and this can also be a great way to solve the supervision issue if you need to go to work. Find a friend locally who also has children revising for public exams and agree to have their child back in your home on another day for some revision time.
Student Help – If you feel your child needs a little more support with their revision but don’t wish to pay expensive tutors then find a friend with an older child home for university holidays who may be prepared to come in and assist your teenager with their revision programme – Babysitting rates may apply! This could obviously backfire when you return home to find that neither of them has left the X-Box console! However, trust must begin somewhere.
Practice Papers – Straightforward learning can be a challenge for most children especially at an early age. So get them in the habit of using their revision time to do practice papers. Schools are more wise to this system than in our day and most of your children will either return home for the holidays with sets of practice papers in each subject or sites on-line where they can download plenty.
Family Holiday – If you have booked some time away with the family then good for you! Go to the beach or to the mountains, enjoy yourselves. Encourage your children to do some revision during the holiday if necessary but whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about having some time out, your hearty revisers will do just as well having had a well earned family break in the sun or snow.
Arabella is an independent education consultant.
You can find her at www.interviewexperienceworkshop.com