The Autumn Term is generally the longest term of the school year, and apart from the 11+ exams, it’s generally quite ‘revision-free’ until the approach to any mock exams in the New Year. So, how can you motivate your child and help them succeed as the evenings get darker and the weather gets colder?
1. Help them set a routine, developing good homework and study habits.
Whether your child has just transitioned into secondary school or not, the start of the new year is the perfect time to start setting new habits. Help them to set up a permanent workspace somewhere quiet and out of the way of distractions and establish a rule of no ‘rewards’ until homework is finished, whether that’s TV or playing games. A short snack-break once they’re home probably wouldn’t go amiss, and ensuring they have a regular dinner time each night will keep them in a good routine too.
2. Remember that they can’t pour from an empty cup.
It may only be the beginning of the school year, and stress around exams may not yet be on their minds, but that doesn’t mean that settling into a new year group or class doesn’t come with its own challenges. As well as focusing on their studies it is important to help your child to learn how to look after their own mental health too. Recently there has been a growth of interest in mindfulness. As well as the benefits in reducing anxiety (which may be useful for exam season), practising mindfulness has also been shown to have an impact on academic attainment (Bennett & Dorjee, 2015). Why not add some mindfulness to your child’s routine?
3. Make sure that any gaps in their knowledge are addressed well ahead of the exam season.
You’re probably not thinking as far ahead as mocks after the Christmas Break or even end of year school exams, but ensuring you know where your child’s gaps in their knowledge are early on will have massive rewards closer to exam time. The Get My Grades subject breakdown is great at doing this, as it shows all of the concepts a student needs to have covered for their course and whether or not your child feels they have covered this area sufficiently. This then makes it extremely easy to address any knowledge gaps sooner rather than later, helping them to be as prepared as possible (and avoid last-minute panic!).
4. Encourage them to read around their course.
Imagine filling up a 1-litre cup with water from a 2-litre jug. Once the cup is full, that’s great, but the 2-litre jug still has more water to offer. That’s generally how you should view your child’s course. Even though they have a lot to learn, it’s really only a fraction compared to how much they could learn about that subject. The new GCSE exams have changed and now require different knowledge recall skills in order to be able to achieve the top grades. Encouraging your child to read around their course, and elaborate on the concepts and ideas they are learning will help them to strengthen the pathways between what they are learning. This, in turn, will benefit them when recalling this knowledge in class or during an exam.
5. Encourage revision little and often, especially on topics covered in previous years.
It’s tempting to think of topics your child has covered in previous years as done and dusted. But the exams assume that students can remember the relevant bits of what was taught in previous years and the new content they are learning this term will build on what they knew last year. So, it’s important for them to remember any topic, whether it’s an old or a new one. One of the best ways to help your child remember is to space their learning out. The human brain is built to be efficient. If a piece of information is only mentioned once and then not used or retrieved again, it becomes harder to recall (like the exact time your last pizza order arrived). Whereas, if a piece of information is used or retrieved often, then the brain knows it’s important and therefore works harder not to forget it (like your email password). Try dropping in the odd general quiz on a wide range of topics – even those they studied last year, or, just set an assignment on concepts from last year on the Get My Grades platform!
6. Be available to answer questions and offer assistance.
Yes they were supposed to be listening in class and no you’re not supposed to remember everything you were taught at school to have any chance of supporting them, but if they’re stuck and have a question, try your best to answer it. If you’re not sure, don’t worry! Why not suggest you google and solve it together? Or, in lieu of being able to answer every question, a Get My Grades subscription would help them search for the answer they’re looking for. Our content is generally explained in a lot more detail, and your child could cover questions and view our detailed answer explanations to help them reinforce what they have learnt in class. A Get My Grades subscription can do more than just help your child if they get stuck on their homework. It can empower them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide them with all the tools they need to master their subjects.