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19 Mar


Welcome to our second-last post in Helping with Homework mini-series. All of the posts in the mini-series can be found on the website here. In previous posts, we discussed the difference between helping younger students with homework and helping older students. Today, we’re going to focus on study skills and revision for students in the older classes, particularly as they move towards secondary school. It can be difficult to juggle homework in different subjects and also to revise for exams and class tests. We have 5 simple tips so that you can help your child to cope with study skills.

1. Space: It’s vital to have a set space associated with homework and revision. It should be relatively distraction free – no TVs on, no radios blaring and no laptops, tablets or phones that aren’t needed for research. There’s plenty of argument over whether listening to music helps or hinders your child’s homework. As a general rule, it seems not to help and can often hinder, but it depends entirely on the individual. If your child is struggling with homework and exams, it might be something to re-examine.

2. Homework: Some subjects will have nightly homework, other subjects will only set homework once or twice a week, while others might set certain tasks for the next week. Try to encourage your child to spread out their homework evenly, and to keep on top of assignments. We all have last minute problems – a visitor, an unexpected outing or even something like a headache or cold – but at least if most of the preparation work has been done, it takes away most of the panic. For the first few months of secondary school, you may need to ask to see your child’s homework journal and help them to work out when to do their assignments.

3. Timetable: When your child is planning their timetable, encourage consistency. A little revision regularly is much more effective than cramming in the days and weeks coming up to exams. Revision is a particular skill. It’s important that your child has a goal sitting down and lists it. ‘I’m going to revise Geography for an hour’ is not an effective goal because your child can revise any part of Geography and have achieved their goal without putting too much effort in. ‘I’m going to revise Chapter 8 in my Geography Book and be able to answer the questions at the end of the chapter’ is a much more effective goal because your child can tell you at then end of the revision session whether or not they’ve achieved their goal.

4. Concentration: The average student loses concentration after around 40 minutes (as do adults!) One of the best study tips I got was to set a timer for 40 minutes and then to take a short break. If your child has huge amounts of homework, encourage them to move onto another subject after 40 minutes and to finish that particular subject later. It’s a lot easier to have 40 minutes of 5 subjects and to finish them off, than to have 2 subjects finished perfectly and 3 to start.

5. Breaks: Breaks are really important but they should be short and screen-free, which are definitely linked. A five-minute break feels too short if you only fit in five minutes of your favourite TV programme and then have to leave it again. Youtube and Facebook are notorious time-stealers – way leads onto way and suddenly an hour has passed!

Above all else, find out what works for your child! This is our last post in the mini-series on helping with homework, but we’d love to add to our posts with your tips and suggestions, so please let us know in the comments!

As always, you can find all ‘Wednesday for Parents’ posts here.

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