Helping Teenagers Revise
What is Revision?
It sounds obvious but lots of folk miss the point that revision is all about re- learning what you have already learned. So the very first step is to make sure that the teenagers or students understand what the material they need to revise. Starting early is good if you find there are obvious gaps and they open their books and glaze over at the words proton and electron, for example, then step one is to put that right. There are various ways you can do this depending upon the subject and level, your own level of confidence in the subject AND how much time you have.
If it is a subject you have a fairly good grasp of yourself then you could talk with the school - they nearly all produce revision guides which summarise they key areas OR buy a commercially produced 'guide' to the subject. There are loads on offer and they not particularly expensive. Then you can support them learning what they need to know.
The school may also run some subject based revision classes and then the teachers can go over any weak areas - your job is just making sure that your teenager turns up.
However if you feel that it's not something you have any idea about then think about getting a tutor for just a couple of hours - it may well be money well spent.
Another alternative is to chat to other parents and pool knowledge, one parent may good at Maths and another at English or you could share the cost of a couple of hours of tuition for more than one student.
Help and advice s available form lots of different sources - there are lots of sites, like the one below - which offer general advice on learning and revision and others dedicated to specific subjects.
As with all periods of stress we tend to function best when we look after ourselves. So as far as possible do your teens a favour and as make sure they get a decent amount of sleep - revision is important but performance in an exam will usually be better when well rested.
Diet is also important so encourage a healthy balanced diet and make sure they drink water.
Exercise is always important but especially when doing a lot of mental work so encourage them to do something active - it really will help their ability to concentrate - and it often helps sleep.
Be there for them emotionally - if they are worried see if they want to chat - or even a hug!
Although the run up to exams can be very busy and stressful and although they have to work hard - like everyone they need a bit of relaxation so make sure they do still have some time to 'chill'
Time and Space
To revise effectively young people need space and time. Even in a crowded household try to find a corner where they can have some peace and quiet and space to write - (this really is essential when revising whatever they may say to the contrary).
However their bedroom isn't always the best place - it is easy when faced with a task we don't like to spend ages doing almost anything other than the task in hand. So do pop up see how they are getting on and encourage them to put away their phone etc. even for a short time as it is far better to do 30 minutes of concentrated work than spend an hour or two half heartedly staring at books.
It also important to show them that you are interested so get involved - help them to create a revision timetable ahead of the exam period and them help then to stick to it. Also make sure you know when their exams are - the dates and times to make sure they get there on the right day and on time and prepared for THAT exam.
Provide a Place to Study
Do's and Don'ts
Encourage but don't nag
Stay positive even if they aren't
Don't promise the earth if they pass - an incentive can be good but setting a huge reward may increase pressure in an unhelpful way
Don't get caught up in their stress - it's normal to be a bit worried but you need to stay calm as parents to support them
Encourage them to ease up a little on other pastimes just for the period of the exams (though they do still need some relaxation)
Teach them some strategies to cope with their stress - its an essential lesson in life these days
If they get into a rut with one kind of technique suggest an alternative - trying an online site when they are sick of mind maps for example
Remind them that it will pass and life does go on
How to Revise
There are a number of methods and techniques but what needs to happen is that information is remembered or stored in the brain so that it can be used to answer questions in the exam.
Simply reading through notes made in class will only be effective if there is a pretty good grasp of the material and the person revising is blessed with a near photographic memory.
The way most people get to remember things is by rehearsal - you may need to look at the recipe book a lot at first but when you have made the recipe a few times in close succession you will have committed most if not all of it to memory.
To speed up the process of getting facts into the memory try the following
- Make notes of the main points on index cards, 'post its' or in a booklet
- Make sure they are notes - a summary or bullet points- not simply a rewrite of the whole set of notes.
- Read these through a few times and then try and write them again or say them verbally and see how much can be remembered
- To reduce pages of notes try putting main points on a topic web or spider graph.
- To get the information solidly in your memory will take time so start early and do a little bit each day, depending how many subjects you need to revise - as exams approach most students find they need to pick up the pace.
- Sometimes it helps to put key facts all over the house on family notice boards, on the fridge door, on the mirror in the hall wherever it can be read again - then change where they are every few days.
- Encourage your teenager to teach you what they have just revised - it is useful and can be fun
- Encourage your teenager to watch the video below - or something similar - often they will listen more attentively to someone heir own age.
Top Tips for Revision
What can parents do to help?
It is a tough line to tread as a parent. Try to avoid nagging too much as often this has the effect of putting them off rather than encouraging them.
Encourage them to do short bursts of very focussed work.
Get involved ask what subject they are revising and offer help.
Make sure they have the equipment they need - a set of felt pens, plenty of paper of a few notebooks, a calculator and any subject specific tools like set texts for English.
A few little incentives can be good too - "Why not do another half hour then I'll make you a hot chocolate" or something like that which will work for your own teenager.
As adults we sometimes realise that there is greater stress in life than exams but remember that for a lot of young people exams are terribly stressful.
Reassure them that you will love them whatever the results but that it is good to try our best as a general principle in life.