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Revision Techniques For Kids: 11 Tips For Parents To Help Their Children Revise For Exams

Because rote learning is never fun.

03/05/2016 16:30

Revision can be tough for both parents and children when exams are looming.

Kids may find it hard to stay motivated and parents will often get tired of constantly nagging them to get work done. 

But there are ways mums and dads can get involved that will help ensure the advice they're giving isn't going in one ear and out the other.

With end of year tests and SATs in May, we chatted to tutoring agencies, education consultants and parents themselves to find out the most effective and entertaining ways to help kids revise.

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1. Identify how your child best enjoys learning.

"Identifying if your child is a kinaesthetic, auditory or visual (KAV) learner and then revising within a learners’ KAV preference can yield remarkable results," said Lorrae Jaderberg, co-founder of JK Educate

"You can then suggest different techniques depending on what you think they'll digest easily."

Kinaesthetic learners enjoy learning by movement, such as gestures, dancing, counting fingers or even acting.

Auditory learners retain information best through sound, including songs, chants and listening to recordings.

Visual learners will learn best through picture stories, shapes, mind maps and even paintings. Your child will need help figuring out what methods would work best for them and keep them focused.

2. Get them to 'sell' it to you.

It's all well and good seeing your kids' faces buried in textbooks or furiously scribbling out notes, but sometimes the best way is for them to tell you what they've learned.

"Explaining historic events, justifying why Steinbeck was a fantastic writer or showing off a maths theorem are all great ways to use verbal reasoning to deepen retention of ideas," advised the tutors at Action Tutoring.

"Get your children to sell their newly-learned facts 'Dragons' Den' style and ask them probing questions to make them think."

3. YouTube it. 

The majority of kids will be familiar with and enjoy spending time on YouTube. Why not search for short educational videos or documentaries online which focus on what they have been studying. 

"Watching flower pollination through a vibrant, witty animation is much more fun than reading about it," added the tutors at Action Tutoring. 

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 4. Learn with them.

"Why not read through their revision books and see what has changed since your exams?" advised Action Tutoring.

"You'd be surprised and intrigued by how much is new. This will allow you to discuss specific points and engage in a shared learning experience."

O'Leary said learning with your child could also involve helping them to make flash cards and testing them on questions - the more involvement from you, the more likely they are to stay focused. 

5. Mix things up.

Anne-Marie O'Leary, editor in chief at Netmums said one of the most important things is to ensure your child has the resources to avoid revision being dull.

"Encourage your child to make notes, to highlight key points and words and to go over each topic several times," she said.

Jaderberg agreed that the more active and interactive the revision is, the more likely the information is to stick.

"The least effective method of learning is just reading the information through, over and over again; only marginally less effective is copying it out," she said.

"Find out if there are any TV programmes, museums, exhibitions or theatre productions relevant to any of the courses.

"Also books or plays on CD or tape can be listened together."

6. Find an engaging place for your child to study. 

Will they be distracted by the TV if they're trying to revise in the living room? Will there be too many temptations in their bedroom if they're sitting on the bed?

Work with your child to find out the best place for them to study, ideally somewhere quiet, advised O'Leary.

Jaderberg said: "Ensure that they have all the materials and resources they need: e.g. hole-punch, paper, pens, calculator, so no time is wasted searching for things."

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7. Praise, praise and more praise. 

Revising is no fun for anyone, so whether you have to nag them to revise or not, always give them praise when they are working hard.

"Small rewards can be a real incentive to work," added O'Leary.

"Also don't forget to give them wind down time - sleeping well and for long enough to feel rested will help thinking and concentration."

8. Cut them some slack.

Not so much of a revision technique (but definitely something parents can do to ease the load on their kids) is to be flexible.

"When your child is revising don't worry about household jobs that are left undone or untidy bedrooms," said O'Leary.

"If they're a bit moody, stay calm yourself. Remember, exams don't last forever."

9. Break up their revision time into small chunks. 

Rather than having your child sit down to revise with no structure, ask them before each "session" what they are going to do in that hour/afternoon.

"Get them to identify the bits they know and the bits they need to spend time on," added Jaderberg.

"They should know their aim for the session as well as briefly revisiting the notes they've previously gone through.

"Ask them to start each session with the hardest bit first so you get it over with first."

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10. Get the whole family involved.

For a short period it's great to get all family members involved in helping your child revise.

This could include sticking up colourful posters or notes around the house (especially for rote learning) and family quizzes during dinner times.

11. Map their progress.

If your child is overwhelmed with the amount of different topics they need to revise, making a visual plan of what they've done and what they've got to do could be helpful.

"Make a map with all the main areas they need to revise written out," tutors at Action Tutoring said. 

"Tick them off when they complete each area. This is a great way to map how much progress is being made and celebrate each tiny achievement."

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