It's that time of year again.
We are coming up to the start of revision and exam season.
Is your household in 'Don't-Panic Mode' ?
Young people are revising, scheduling and planning. Some are keeping on top of it all - and others are struggling a bit.
Whether your household is confronting end of year exams, GCSEs, AS / A Levels or even university examinations and dissertations, the pressures are the same whatever the age of your offspring.
As the student, it's oftentimes hard to see the wood from the trees. Throughout their academic year they are required to adhere to a regular timetable. Once they start the revision period however, once lessons are suspended, it can be challenge for them to control their own time management.
How do we support our children then ?
The Younger Student : A Revision Contract.
Yup! Does just what it says on the tin. It holds both the child and the parent accountable. The contract provides a set of guidelines that you can refer to when emotions get heated. Here's what to do :
1. Make sure you are both feeling calm : when you are drawing this out. This is a joint venture.
2. Set up the ground rules together : These might include :
* the number of hours to study each day / week ( a revision timetable )
* take a break after X minutes
* reward once X hours completed
* removal of privileges if X hours not completed
* can / can't listen to music
* where to revise
phone left with parent whilst revising
(Choose whatever guidelines that work for you and your child )
3. Once agreed, write them down in a list and print it out TWICE.
(a copy for each of you)
4. Both of you - Sign each copy : this seems to make it more 'official'
I have found that the contract gives your child a sense of being in control. All too often they moan that they are being 'nagged' into having to revise. This allows them to manage their own boundaries, with a bit of assistance.
The Older Student : The Pomodoro Technique.
This is a well known time management technique. "Pomodoro" : so called because the guy who invented it, was an Italian. He used an egg timer that was shaped as a tomato!
1. Break your work / revision tasks into chunks.
Each chunk (called a Pomodoro) is to last 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Allocate a task for each chunk.
2. Write down the chunks and allocated tasks.
I am a list person - so I find that it helps to write them down and print them out; so there's something to refer to.
let the fun begin ...
3. Start working through the first few chunks.
At the end of each Pomodoro put an 'X' next to it or score it out.
(be aware of how many times you were tempted do something else during this 25 minute period!)
4. After 4 Pomodoros - Take a longer break.
Let this last 15-20 minutes ( i.e. : 100 minutes of work and 15 minutes break ) I'd advise a change of scene - stretching - getting something to eat or drink - take the dog for a walk - Whatever works for you. A new environment always recharges the brain.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for as long as necessary.
It's often suitable to change topics / subjects at this stage.
The benefits from using this approach are many. For one, it stops the brain from stagnating; as our brains need time to relax and cannot function for hours on end without a break.
This approach helps maintain focus and keeps your mind fresh. Also, you reassuringly, start to see the results quite quickly.
Please note : not every child is open to their parent's support, as they mistake it for interfering or worse still nagging.
As parents, just because we aren't sitting the exams ourselves, the struggles are equally frustrating.
I hear many parents say :
"Why won't they listen - when I'm just trying to help?"
"Our house just feels like a battleground at the minute!"
Whilst both these techniques has raving fans - it does not suit everyone. But if your young person is struggling - it might be worth a try. Right?