Helping children to develop effective study skills

Helping children to develop effective study skills  

As the school new year is now well underway, along with the excitement of the new term for students of all ages comes assessments and exams.

For us as parents and educators, we want our children and students to succeed. However, the inevitable stress that exams bring can, at times, be overwhelming for the whole family.

However, it really does not have to be this way. A range of study strategies and habits can be established from a young age, with the help of both educators and parents.

Fundamentally, as a parent, it is vital to be involved and informed about your child’s learning throughout their education. Make yourself aware of when weekly spelling tests take place, upcoming assessments and important end-of-year exams, as well as all of the dates and expectations of external examinations such as IGCSEs and A levels.

Outstanding schools will have a school platform, wherein the school gives both daily and weekly updates as appropriate with regard to tests, assessments, and examinations. Examination boards publish their exam timetables well in advance. Having this information as soon as possible is vital for your child to be able to prepare appropriately. If you are not sure, ask the school directly.

Establishing good study habits begins with creating a safe and comfortable place to study. Many adults will have a designated space, be it a study or designated work area within their homes. Children of all ages also need this facility. Be it when they are younger, reading their daily reading book at the kitchen table with you, to having their own dedicated desks in their own workspace within the house. This can be in a bedroom or in a space downstairs.

Ensure that the workspace is both bright, airy and comfortably warm, has lots of resources, including a calendar to put key dates on, pens and highlighters.

Distractions need to be minimalised. Workspaces overlooking a busy road or next to computers, phones and gaming consoles are not the best idea!

Encourage your child to have regular breaks, such as coming downstairs to have a drink or going for a reenergising walk in the garden.

For effective revision and studying, motivated students need to have clear in their minds exactly what needs to be learnt and for when. Do encourage using a large calendar to highlight important dates and to map out what to study and when for. You do not need to be an expert on a particular subject to help your child with this organisation and, yet, it is a vital skill to develop.

It is important not to get into the never-ending habit of rewriting a revision timetable each time it requires altering. Sometimes this can mean perfect calendars and no revision! Encourage the adaptation of the original.

It is also essential that your child rewards themselves for good study sessions and staying on task. This can be anything from popping out to see a friend or using social media for a specified time.

When a safe and secure place in which to learn and revise is created, then studying/revision can begin. Children study in different ways and it is, therefore, important that they recognise what works for them when revising, reviewing and studying for assessments and exams.

By Penelope Best, Head of School,
Eupheus International School, Loulé