When you hear that exam time is approaching, besides the rolling thunder and the strike of lightening that goes off in your head, as a parent you must think… “shoo there goes another 2 weeks of my life.”
The stress alone is not what devours your being, it’s the boredom too! The “boogey-man” known as studying coupled with the monster known as exams. No wonder we have parents and children FREAKING out under exam stress. It is almost as though their very futures are being told to them right there and then, in the exam room. You can almost feel the sweat on your foreheads as you kiss your child goodbye on those exam mornings.
How can we add some fun? Yes I said it, FUN to this scary time that both you and your child go through AT LEAST twice a year?
Here are some useful tips to add some smiles to study time.
1. Introduce “free time” into your child’s study session
Firstly, exam stress is normal.
As a parent, you feel the pressure sometimes more than your child. This pressure causes you to want to switch off all the devices in the house and have quiet study time.
“No noise, unless it is the sound of your eyes on that book!”
The problem with forcing your child into a constricted space is that it might not be the most productive space for him or her to be in. Understanding the necessity for free time during the exam stress period is essential in getting the optimum results that you know your child is capable of.
If your child feels that there is no space to breathe, it will most likely result in a worse outcome than if they didn’t study at all.
Create a timetable where there is free time for your child to enjoy playing outside or watching some television. There must be something to look forward to at the end of a study session. Balance is the key word. Allow your child to breathe in between their sessions. You can bring them some milk and cookies or make them a nice cup of hot chocolate. This gives your child motivation to keep pushing through. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice cuppa? You’re welcome to join your child, have some fun with it… marshmallows maybe?
2. Use educational programs
There is no doubt that reading tons of notes and highlighting information can be boring. I could fall asleep just thinking about it. In actual fact, sometimes when I went to my room to study I actually did fall asleep! Ssssshhhh don’t tell my parents!
I was not the “sit still” type of learner. I needed to move around constantly and interact with information in order for me to learn it. Sometimes it took two weeks for me to learn a new concept. There was limited internet connection and resources were scarce. My most effective study method was building mind maps that were colourful and easy on the eyes.
In this new technological era, there are so many resources for children to use. The Internet really opens doors of learning. Apps like WorksheetCloud assist learners with their study skills by making it less boring. Children levelup, unlock rewards and compete on a leaderboard with their friends as they study. The learning process feels more like playing a game than actually studying, which is what gets the hooked. This also allows them to feel as though they are progressing and achieving something tangible.
Children do not want to sit in a room staring at pages. Make use of the tools that are at your fingertips to make learning exciting.
3. Use your surroundings to learn
I was at a workshop once and the facilitator said that in order to learn, we don’t need to look far. Most of what we need to learn is already on our bodies or in our surroundings.
This might seem strange to you, but bear with me.
Languages and Mathematics can be taught in the comfort of your own home without the pressure of a textbook. There will always be a need for new knowledge, but as a parent you can use your everyday routine as a studying method for your child.
If your child is studying Capacity in Mathematics, take a cup and measure the amount of water that goes into that cup and ask your child how many of those cups it would take to fill the kettle – they need to make a prediction. After that, allow your child to throw the cups of water into the kettle to confirm his or her answer.
If you lie on the ground on your left or right side and lift your leg up, you are making angles. Types of angles can be demonstrated: acute, obtuse and right angle. This is a fun activity that the entire family can enjoy. Everyone could guess the correct answers, while someone could keep score. This is a practical (and dare I say FUN) Maths lesson.
There are so many other ways to incorporate learning in your household. These are fun study activities to keep your child motivated to learn.
4. The art of play
There is something smart about play. Play is regarded as fun and children do not see it as a chore. By using play as part of your study programme at home, you integrate the teaching at school with freedom at home. Children need to have all their senses awakened in order to have them learn at their best – visual, audio, smell, taste and touch.
Create a constructive play space. Toys are not the only resource you can use. I used to play a game in my class. I banned certain words from my class, like the word: happy. They were only allowed to use synonyms of those words, like jovial and contented. This was fun for them because they could use these words at home too. Slowly the words were also used in their writing pieces. As a parent you could make up games like that as well. Play with your child and allow them to lead the learning process. Education is learner-centred after all.
Games also change the mindset of a child. Instead of feeling anxious for their study session, they will feel excited to express what they know and what new concepts they learned.
Children enjoy integrated learning, which allows them to grow as individuals and this can be done through the ways listed above.
Learning does not need to be rigid. Reflect on the way your child studies and then implement some of these suggestions.
Let’s make studying less BORING.