It’s nearly study leave season again when diligent pupils are to be found at their desks revising for the all-important exams.
Of course, that’s the theory. In reality, pupils could just as easily be found watching Jeremy Kyle, hanging out with their friends or, even, snoozing the days away.
While, clearly, no one can be productive when they have their noses in a book for hours on end, good use of the time can make a massive difference to the exam results.
It can be hard to find a way to help your children make the best of this time, so here are some top tips:
Feed their bodies. Have plenty of good healthy food that will release energy slowly. Try to reduce the amount of sugary instant-hit type snacks and drinks on hand. They might think that fuelling themselves on cola is a good idea, but their brains will work better on more nutritious stuff.
Make a plan. Suggest drawing up a study timetable that includes reasonable relaxation and time for other activities. That way the work time is more likely to be productive. Hour-long spurts of concentration followed by a break are about right. The BBC Student Life site has revision planners to get you started.
Remove distractions. Take all non study gadgets – phones, iPods, TVs – away during study time. The temptation to check in online might be too much. Consider turning your wifi off during these times.
A little exercise. Before settling down to study, warm up with a little physical exercise. It will make the body more relaxed and invite a rush of oxygen to your brain.
Practice the exam. Do example papers or find resources online. The BBC Bite site has interactive ‘games’ to test your child’s knowledge.
Be purposeful. Keep in all your minds the reason for these efforts. Look towards the goal – good results might be the key to a certain career or college place. It will help to keep your child focussed on what they are doing.
Be well equipped. Make sure your student has all the books and notes they need. Plus stocking up on pens, highlighters, cards for study notes etc. can help make the process more tempting.
Keep calm and carry on. Try to make sure home life is as calm and pleasant as possible during the study period. Be aware that your son or daughter might feel under pressure and on-edge.
Don’t nag. While you want them to make the most of the time, constantly pressuring them won’t help. It will only lead to tension and arguments that will do no one any good.
Be interested. Show your child you’re interested in what they are doing and praise them for working hard, especially if it’s been a struggle for them.
Get an early start. One of the biggest pitfalls is underestimating the amount of material there is to learn and leaving it too late to get it all done. The study leave period might seem long enough at the start, but the time will soon rush past. A timetable will help.
Work to your strengths. Find out what learning technique works best for your child and capitalise. They may do better with note taking, cue cards, watching videos, reading, mindmaps, recording the topic and playing it back repeatedly. Everyone is different.
As the big day approaches don’t panic, feed them a good breakfast and double check they’ve got a spare pen. Good luck.