Whenever the 7+ and 11+ entrance tests draw closer, anxiety levels normally near combustion point with most of it coming from the parents!
The truth of the matter is, parents normally feel the pressure more than their children do.....not sure why though. Revision can be quite challenging for both parent and child - especially when exams are just around the corner; children often struggle to stay motivated while parents become exhausted from having to constantly trouble their child to get some work done.
This can often be a very tense period for both parent and child, which isn’t a recipe for a good outcome.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways around this, to ensure that everyone gets a good experience out of this.
Get in there early
I suppose it should go without saying – start the revision process early. This is necessary because your child would have enough time to get through the list of topics and be able to tackle a good number of practice papers too. The earlier you begin, the better as there is no telling what lies along the way of revision.
Have a plan
A crucial part of the process is to have a structured approach, as you need to be able to chart your child’s rate and level of progress as he/she revises; knowing which topics have been covered and which are yet to be done. Those have been fully understood and those that need further attention.
This can be in the form of a plan, flowchart, schedule of tasks etc. Something quite simple to follow, as the last thing you want to do is to create another task – within an existing task!
Part of that structured approach would be to have that initial chat with your child because your child is (ultimately) the one who will sit for the exam – not you. It is quite easy for parents to get carried away with the process and what tends to happen is the child is left to ‘go with the flow’ ; enrolled for tutorials, have study sessions, do the practice papers, get nagged at, do the ‘open days’ rounds. Then on the day, gets taken to the exam centre - like a lamb to the slaughterhouse and told to do his / her best.
The process is quite gruelling so the more you as a parent can do to ease the pressure on your child, the better.
The chat could involve: explaining what the exam is about, why you would like your child to take it, what your child thinks about taking such an exam, what the process will entail, adjustments in the schedule at home that might have to be made in order o accommodate the new study routine etc.
You are in it together
Once the study schedule begins, you will need to make that journey with your child, as much as you can. This could be in the form of making revision cards, reading the passage of a comprehension piece in order to be able to check/discuss the answers with them. You will need to go through the revision /workbooks to see if the methods are still the same, or have been updated since your days at school. If they have changed, you will need to get yourself up to speed, to make sure you can explain the concepts in the same way they are being taught in school. It is always a good idea to show your child that you are there for him/her. Encourage and support your child. Let your child know that you are with him/her, every step of the way.
Quality not Quantity
Studying can be challenging for a lot of children, especially if they have such a big task ahead. It would therefore be ideal to break the study times into smaller and more manageable chunks which could be more frequently done.
Vary the task types
Sitting at a table and reading the whole time could become quite boring for a child. Think about how your child learns best, and adapt some of the methods to accommodate that. If your child more of the visual sort, it could watch some YouTube videos on some of the concepts /processes. Another way could be for your child to listen to some tutorials on some of the topics. Other ways could be in the form of revision cards, games etc. Please note that all of the above should be used to complement the reading – not replace it.
Get the rest of the family involved
Organise family games, quiz challenges, family discussions/debates on topics
Establish that study Spot
It is always a good idea to find that area within the home that is ideal for studying – might not be in the bedroom as it could give the feeling of being too comfortable and the child ends up reading on his/her bed as opposed to at the table. It should ideally be a place away from the distractions of the television, radio, computer (unless for research) etc where your child can fully focus for the agreed amount of time. Be sure to check in on your child from time to time, to monitor his/her progress and offer words of encouragement.
No revision regime would be complete without the use of practice papers. They are a great way to prepare your child for an exam as they will help familiarise your child with the different layout types of the papers, as well help them get to grips with their time management skills.
Don’t forget- All work and no play, makes Jack a dull child, so don’t make it a mundane marathon for your child, but ensure your child gets time to do things that he/she likes so the balance is struck somewhere. Also don’t be too hard on them if they forget to tidy up their room (or perhaps just the bed) or miss out on doing the chores as a result of studying. It is a temporary thing and.....a bit of flexibility is required on your part – a bit of a compromise perhaps...?
In all of this, don’t forget to commend your child for all of the hard work he/she is doing.
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