Learning how to learn

Learning how to learn

It is that time of the year again when students, normally secondary aged, are faced with a range of end-of-year assessments or formal external exams such as IGCSEs and A Levels.

For many, it can be an anxious time and stress levels can build up, especially in teenagers.

Parents, educators, and schools must do all that they can to teach good study skills and help our children through what can be an emotional experience.

Good study skills and practices increase confidence, the ability to achieve and helps self-esteem to grow.

Successful students are not born successful. It is a mixture of the correct combination of attitude, learnt habits and a lot of hard work and effort.

All students are capable of achieving at their level so long as emotions are managed, distractions are side-lined, and a clear study/learning plan is in place. In fact, studying the correct way can be far easier, much more enjoyable, and successful than most students and parents realise.

All schools have a responsibility to help their students to learn how to learn and to enjoy the process. I know that at our school showing and teaching our students how to learn for assessments and end-of-year tests takes place over the entire year. It starts from an early age with being taught how to learn spellings at six years old to learning how to take an end-of-year Mathematics test.

Learning how to learn to pass assessments and exams should be an integral part of everyday teaching and skills practised over a period of time. Leaners, therefore, become confident and, as the old adage goes, “success breed success” and the cycle is perpetuated.

As parents, it is important that we also help our children to develop their study skills. This can be achieved through a few straightforward steps:

  • The most important thing as a parent is to keep calm ourselves and to not project onto our children our own worries or concerns about assessments and exams. Yes, they are important, however, children do not need added pressure.
  • Ensure your child has a designated area to study in, away from distractions, well-lit and bright, with room for timetables and planners. It is always a clever idea, if possible, to have this space close by where parents will be, so that your child does not feel isolated or alone.
  • Together on a large planner, map out when assessments are taking place and help your child/children to plan appropriately so that they can see how much time they have before each test.
  • Provide your child with a fresh notebook for each assessment and encourage them to make new notes in preparation for their exams, and to highlight key words and concepts.
  • Help your child with practice tests and encourage the making of flash cards which you can then use to ask pertinent questions and develop understanding.
  • Be on hand to encourage your child to take regular breaks. Be positive and reassuring during this time. Provide healthy snacks and, more than anything else, make sure no matter what their age that a good night’s sleep is a must.

We all remember the pressure and stress of exams and, vitally, we know that hard work will always result in a positive outcome. As parents, this is our time to support and nurture our children in what can be a most challenging time.

You don’t always get what you wish for; You get what you work for!

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