Exam season is upon us. From internal assessments to exams that will help determine university predicted grades, without forgetting the ongoing external IGCSE and IB exams; there is a growing buzz around the College. It is natural and very normal for anxiety levels to increase during this time. As Beaks, this change of pace and focus is a sign of “normality” that has been missing for the last few years. However, these feelings may be new, unfamiliar and a cause for concern for many pupils and parents.
Parents of teenagers regularly tell me that their child doesn’t want them to be involved in their school work. However, parental involvement and support can help to reduce the heightened tension for these young learners when it comes to revision. They are learning how to regulate their emotions and sometimes they need a little external input to do this.
Help to create a quiet, dedicated work environment for specific tasks and revision methods, such as creating flashcards of key terms, making mind maps from notes or specifications, answering past paper questions, or using online revision resources such as Seneca. This will ensure that focused time and energy can be applied to active engagement with learning material. Active engagement is critical to ensure that neurological pathways are working during revision, rather than merely carrying out passive activities such as reading or highlighting material.
Helping to create a revision timetable or schedule by allowing everyone to know when quiet, focused time without interruptions is needed. It also allows everyone to see when learners can have breaks and treats.
Have check-ins to discuss what is being covered and how different methods may suit different subjects, for example, flashcards are excellent for vocabulary and definitions. Still, they may not be the best method for recalling a many-step process. Making links and analogies to situations or mnemonics to remember lists are helpful and best practised with someone else. Offering a chance to talk things through can help to straighten out things that we sometimes think we understand but are challenging to put into words when asked to explain. Providing a supportive ear and an opportunity to bounce ideas off can give a better understanding of the material for all involved in the learning process.
Provide opportunities for exercise, time away from study, sleep and enjoyment. These activities allow the brain to rest and process what is being worked on, so build in time for them. Eating lunch at a favourite restaurant or knowing that there is a time to catch up with friends over the weekend with regular bedtimes provide a greater mental capacity than a continuous slog over revision materials.
It is difficult to regulate our emotions when we are anxious. However, the pupils have the content, training and materials they need from their beaks to be successful in all their exams. Your guidance and support can ensure that the process remains productive and constructive to help them to prepare for the next stage of their education.
Mrs Tolba | Director of Learning and Teaching