One again *that* time of year is rolling around, and parents of 11yr olds facing SATS plus the older 15-18yr olds looking down the barrel of exams are wondering how best they can help their child study and achieve the grades that they have the potential for.
Naturally every parent is as different as every child – some will float through the exam period in a bubble of stress-free relaxed it-is-what-it-is aura. Others will find the weeks and months leading up to it impossibly difficult and nerve-wracking.
And of course, for many kids a tutor can be just the additional help they need. It may be that your child is struggling with a particular subject, or it may be that a tutor is taken on to stretch a child with an exceptional ability. Because the tutor is working with your child in a more focused way than would be possible in a class of 25 or 30 children, a lot can often be achieved in a short time.
But whether they have extra-curricular assistance or are going to alone;
Here’s our top ten scientifically proven tips to help your child study better:
1 – Listen to music:
Yes, it’s true – but not the Pierce The Veil playlist that’s their current favourite. Researchers at Stanford have established that if you play “obscure 18th century composers,” you’ll engage the parts of your brain that help you pay attention. And if they don’t want to go that far, listening to any music will put them in a better mood about studying and could even change your perception of what they’re doing.
Yes, we know they think their brain can easily dip in and out of Messenger and Snapchat while they study, but actually they’re messing with theior concentration (no surprise there then says every parent everywhere). An Indiana University study recently showed multitasking inhibits studying by interrupting the absorption and processing of information.
3 – Stick to the books:
Obviously all students use (and are rarely separated from…) their screens. But current research shows that traditional print wins for studying. The iPad causes 6.2% slower reading times than a printed book, while the Kindle is 10.7% slower. And a psychology lecturer at the University of Leicester found students required more repetition to learn new material when they were reading on a computer screen, rather than from a book.
Students never seem to remember this one (badoom-tish), even though they’ve been told since 1885. The first time you hear something new, review it within 24 hours and you’ll remember up to 80% of what you learned.
5 – Sleep, child:
Many students swear they work, but pulling an all-nighter of study was debunked long ago as an effective study technique. Now research out of the University of Notre Dame has shown the best way to recall information is to sleep after learning it. Students were split into two groups: those who studied at 9 a.m. and then went about their day, and those who studied at 9 p.m. then went to sleep. Both at 12 hours and 24 hours later, when both groups had had a full night’s sleep, the ones who slept shortly after studying scored higher.
6 – Ditch cramming:
So now you know interval studying is best, but what if you don’t have time to study every day? UCâ€“San Diego psychologists found that it’s still better to study closer to the day you learned the material than to the day of the test. They put the optimal time at 10% of the time between learning and testing. So if you learn something on Monday and the quiz is the following Monday, study no later than Wednesday.
7 – Move rooms:
Don’t pick one ‘study spot’ but go ahead and change your scenery. In a classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.
8 – Close the book:
In 2009, a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis published an article in Psychological Science advising students against studying by reading and rereading textbooks, which leads people to think they know material better than they do because everything is right in front of them. He advised instead that students use active recall: closing the book and reciting everything they can remember to cement long-term memory.
9 – Exercise first:
The benefits of exercise on the brain are many and well-documented. You can also give your studying a boost by breaking a sweat shortly before you study. According to Dr. Douglas B. McKeag of the Indiana University Medical Centre, exercise gets blood flowing to your brain more evenly and make you more alert and more able to learn.
10 – Switch it Up:
Just like changing rooms, scientists have also shown that it’s better to focus on several distinct but related topics rather than one narrow area. If you know you’re working on quadratic equations, for example, you’re not actually thinking about the task, just solving the equations.
But if you have arrange of problems then you first have to decide what the problem is asking for before you can solve it – which is a very important skill in an exam situation