Perhaps you’ve been gifted with a studious , self-motivated angel who studied religiously each night after school.
…But more likely, pinning your sweet child down to complete their long-overdue homework feels like herding a large assortment of angry cats!
In this series of blog posts we’ll be sharing some of our best advice to establish and maintain a healthy and successful approach to revision.
In this post we’ll deal with the big picture; that is, encouraging your child to buy into revision, and establishing a positive environment and conditions to make it work. In Part 2, we’ll tackle ways to ensure that the time they’re spending is effective (and helping you to help them, without retaking your own GCSEs!).
GOALS & TARGETS
If you want your child to revise when you’re not looking, watching and counting the minutes, you need them to buy into the process. Why not sit down with him or her and have a discussion?
What are their career ambitions or interests? What sorts of training, education or apprenticeships are required? What grades are needed for these? Education shouldn’t be just a means to an end, but having an end goal in sight can be really helpful when they’re in the midst of a long slog. This conversation might help you to point your child towards other opportunities, books, relatives and so on, who can provide insight into their future career.
Once they’ve made some goals, write them up; make a poster and put it on display somewhere. This is the goal they’ve set themselves, and it’s a worthy one to pursue. Now, work with your child to set some targets (You can use our Goal Setting Poster!). These should be steps on the way towards their goal. To reach my goal, I’ll need to……. what? If you struggle with reading, could you read one challenging fiction book every 2 weeks? That’s a concrete action which students can achieve every week, and as a parent you can clearly check if they have done so. As much as possible, getting your child to feel a sense of ownership over their goals and targets will help them to ‘stick with the plan’ and make you feel less of a nag!
- Get them to find a reason to achieve
- Help them to figure out how to get there
- Make a display to keep ‘your eye on the prize;
Powerful Questions to ask
- What sorts of people do you admire? Why?
- If you could do any job in the world, what would you do?
- What would you do if you didn’t care about what anyone else thought?
- How do you want other people to see you?
- What would you like to achieve?
- What are your favourite subjects at school and why?
- Working backwards from this career goal, what training is needed? What grades and experience do you need?
- If you’re passionate about this subject, what sorts of extra-curricular activities, books, websites, films and clubs could you engage with? Are there any trips we can go on to build up your knowledge?
Help your child to succeed by setting up a calm, distraction-free environment. If you are able to set up a desk in a quiet room where they can work undisturbed, great. Otherwise, a kitchen table can work just as well, as long as the child has space for their resources and minimal distractions.
‘Music helps me to study!’ – a common claim amongst teens. Unfortunately, scientists disagree. You’re better off removing all distractions such as phones, music and TV, to help your young person focus. However, not all students will work well for an extended period in complete silence, so it’s up to you as a parent. Studying in a public location might be noisier, but can also help to ensure that reluctant students are actually getting things done. Alternatively, some white noise from an app or speaker may help students to focus.
You can always have some music time and then 15 minutes of silent time to answer a mock question. This compromise can work well for the more reluctant child!
Finally, you may well find that the purchase of some inexpensive but ‘special’ tools like coloured post-in notes, a pinup board or some large sheets of coloured paper make revision feel like less of a chore and more of a treat. Whatever makes the difference!
- Quiet place or place you can sneakily supervise
- Agree where distracting devices go during study
- Kit them out nicely!
Powerful Questions to ask
- Do you prefer to revise in peace and quiet or somewhere you can ask for help?
- What equipment and resources do you need? Where should we store them?
- Are there things we can display on the walls to help you keep your goals in sight, or give you useful prompts?
- If music is allowed, what rules will we agree on to make sure it’s not distracting?
- If you’re in a quiet place, where will you leave your phone whilst studying?
Building routines will help your child (and you!) immensely. However, it’s important to develop this routine with, not for, your child. For example, they may prefer to do all their homework straight after school and then move on to their games console. This can work well as you can ask them to ‘prove’ what they’ve done to you.
However many young people would benefit from a break after school to regain focus, enjoy social time or exercise outdoors, and then focus on homework in the evening. Others may be early risers who prefer to do their homework before school! The key thing is to build a routine of ‘little and often’ and then increase the duration of homework over time.
Top tip: in some ways it’s human nature to disregard the whole plan if we ‘fail’ one part of it; the equivalent or giving up on a diet after one day of chocolate cake and pizza. Don’t let your child’s one blip cause a catastrophe; of course, we all have days when we fail. Your care and encouragement will keep them on track.
You may find our YFT Revision Timetable useful!
- There has to be a schedule
- Little and often beats long sessions
- Check that it’s happening
- If there’s blip, pick it up again!
Powerful Questions to ask
- When do you feel most alert?
- Let’s sit down together and you can explain to me what you plan to revise this week.
- Do you always get your homework on specific days? If so, how can we schedule revision to suit?
- When do you feel bored during the week? Would that be a good time for 20 minutes of revision?
- Are there things we can revise together? If so, why don’t we book in a weekly ‘Maths with Dad’ timeslot?
- How will I know you’re sticking with this routine? Can you tick off each session on the schedule, use a sticker chart, or something else?
On the Your Favourite Teacher platform, you can see what your child has been doing over time. Each course shows how much is complete, and when it was last accessed, so you can see the progress your child is making over time.