The Easter holidays are upon us: a break full of joy and chocolate for younger children, but for those old enough to be concerned about important exams, a time of revision, and more revision. Candidates for GCSEs, AS-levels and A-levels, and their parents, will spend the next few weeks either revising, worrying about revising and – too soon – worrying about not having done enough revising. But it does not have to be so traumatic.
Parents can feel exasperated when trying to encourage their offspring to study. But their children are not being deliberately difficult: they often simply don’t know what to do. As one earnest student said, “Teachers tell us what to study, but nothing about how to do it.”
Susan Harris, a mother of two teenagers, told me: “In my experience, schools don’t proactively work out how best to help children actually study. Early on, there is little guidance on the practical side of things, even down to the simplest aspect like how to summarise your notes. Strategies suggested for my children’s revision were non-existent in Year 7 and 8.
“I felt it was down to us as parents to find books about study skills and to try and help our children at home. Schools just need to teach them how to learn and teach them early.”
Many young people want to succeed but often have very limited learning and study skills. Frequently, study technique is described as a concoction of reading and highlighting notes, with perhaps some essay planning thrown in for good measure.
Yet if these haven’t worked in the past, they won’t work now.
Teenage learners generally fall into three camps: the few who instinctively know how to tackle revision; those who feel overwhelmed and procrastinate; or the largest group, who underestimate the amount and depth of work they need to do.