The dreaded second term doesn’t have to be dreaded at all. At least, not if you plan in advance.
The dreaded second term has arrived. I say dreaded because it comes with the gloom of exams. However, if you plan ahead it doesn’t have to be an awful term at all. But still, give me back the first term any day! 😉
As much as we might hate them, exams are an indicator as to how well your child understands the school curriculum that has been taught in the classroom.
We’ve written many blog posts about exam preparation, but a key factor we want to drive home is early preparation.
Follow these exam preparation steps …
1. Create a Place to Study
A place that is quiet with minimal distractions or interruptions is an ideal study environment. Keep the workspace tidy and make sure that study notes and books are organised and easily accessible.
2. Create a Study Plan
Your child must start by organising their life and learning to prioritize. They mustn’t leave studying until the last minute in order to prevent cramming. Cramming does not benefit long-term memory retention.
The present school system calls for long-term retention because the entire year’s work is tested in the fourth term. Studying habits that focus on knowledge retention means an easier study programme later in the year.
Your child will also benefit greatly from using WorksheetCloud for exam preparation as part of their study plan. WorksheetCloud is specifically designed to help your child revise and prepare for tests and exams throughout the year by providing worksheets and practice exams (with memos!) in English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Science and Life Skills.
If you need help creating a study plan, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to help you.
3. Improve Time Management
Cramming causes anxiety. Help your child to create a balanced study plan. Why? So that your child is able to study each subject in its entirety. This should ultimately boost their test performance. Studying in 15 – 30 minute intervals with 5 to 10 minute breaks is definitely more beneficial. Allow plenty of time for revision. Your child should study unfamiliar concepts first (the one’s that need more attention) while their brain is more alert, followed by the material that comes more easily.
4. Do Homework
Be aware of what your child is expected to do for homework. If homework is done effectively it should highlight problem areas. Look out for warning signs and act on them immediately. Be honest about what needs attention.
Consult with the teacher, follow advice and practice – it does make perfect. For example, practising timetables and bonds in Mathematics makes a huge difference. A great free web app you should use for timetables and bonds practice is MyMathsApp.
If your child knows the basic concepts it makes it easier when preparing for exams. Start summarising work taught in class, make lists and get a good understanding of the basic terminology used in different subjects. Make sure that your child understands the content of what has been taught. Reviewing what has been taught that day can also be very effective and help with memory retention.
5. Pay Attention in Class
Encourage your child to ask if they don’t understand something, and to be part (an active participant) of the lesson. This not only benefits your child’s learning, but also greatly encourages your child’s teacher.
6. Know Your Child’s Personal Learning Style
This will definitely help your child maximize their learning. Remember, we are all different and we each have our own way of studying. Finding your child’s learning style will help assist optimal studying and yield better results. Read my previous blog post When Should You Start Preparing for Exams for more advice on learning styles.
7. Try these Revision Techniques (irrespective of Learning Style)
- Use flowcharts and diagrams
- Practice old exam papers (try WorksheetCloud!)
- Explain answers to others
- Organise study groups with friends
- Take regular breaks
- Maximize practice testing (again, try WorksheetCloud! It’s great for practice testing.)
- Highlight, re-read and summarize notes (before actual studying takes place)
In a Nutshell …
- Study frequently
- Study according to your learning style
- Eat correctly – drink lots of water
- Have the necessary supplies (notebooks, pens, highlighters) ready and available
- Sleep well
Boost your child’s confidence to lessen their fear and anxiety during exam time. Have realistic expectations. Encourage them to set goals (realistic goals) and help guide and nurture them to achieve these goals.
Inspire your child and help your child to understand the value of studying, and of having a solid education. Help them understand that they must give themselves the best possible chance at a bright future.
Have any exam preparation hints of your own? Share them with us in the comments section below …
Hi Adele, my son is in Grade 4 and has been having problems with learning since he started school. We have checked and tried all possible remedies after he was”diagnosed” with ADD, minor dyslexia, etc. Nothing worked! This year I started to teach him the day’s work at home and his marks increased dramatically. However, I can’t seem to get the basic building blocks of reading, writing and spelling caught up. Do you have any suggestions?
Message from Adele:
I would seek guidance from a Foundation Phase teacher or remedial teacher (I’m presuming your child has been assessed by an educational psychologist) who can read the results of the original tests done. They can then sit with you and explain where to start filling the gaps. Doing reading exercises daily, as explained in my blog titled “The art of reading with your child” should also help as you’ll be able to incorporate all aspects of language.
My daughter is in grade 4 and they are writing exams this term. The amount of homework given each day is overwhelming, not to mention that we have not yet started to study for the exams. How much time should a grade 4 spend on homework a day as well studying?
Message from Adele:
I can only talk from my own perspective and what we do at our school. We actually stop sending homework for Grade 4 during exam study time (a month before exams start)as we send home a revision timetable with relevant revision exercises. I would imagine if the children are expected to do both, that 20 -30 minutes should be set aside for homework and 2/3 15 – 20 minute slots to study for the afternoon. But you’ll be the best judge as you know what your child is capable of. Otherwise just focus on one area to study and set aside extra study time over the weekend when she’ll be more alert and relaxed. Hope this helps? Adele
Hi my son is in grade 9 and is a lazy bugger.he shows no interest in school work.any advice
Boys -we just have to love them! What is his interests/ hobbies? Does he like games on the tv? Is it war perhaps? Well, that is history. Take out a movie about history and just talk about it- that is litature. Or does he ride with his lingboard- that will be physicas. Let him google who is the champion & what records are there for jumps ect. He will memories info.
With boys we have to be more practical. Show interst in what he is doing & show him another way of how school work is relevant & interesting. Start with the things he likes.
And good news- from my own experience…boys take longer, but within the next year or so you will see he is more responsible with school work. Encourage him, do things together & let him feel you accept him. They grow up so fast.
You should make a large chart and paste it on a wall or in his bedroom this way he looks at his work everyday
Hi, I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. My Grandson Cameron is in Grade 3. He stays with his mom , Chrystal in Kimberley Northern Cape. His mom subsiquently is complaining that Cameron do not use the books that I have giving him, to assist with schoolwork. How can she make it more interesting for him, just an hour at the most, to give him the edge. When visits in Cape Town, we use a reward system to ensure that he put brain to book daily.
Hi. My daughter is 11 and has problems concentrating on her school work. I have tried to get her to a better school but she has repeatedly failed the entrance tests. I am on the verge of giving up on her. How can I help her with concentration with her school work?
Thanks for your message.
For most children, it is difficult to focus for more than a few moments on any task and that’s quite natural, due to their curiosity, exuberance and energy. However, concentration is essential for studying, for homework and for the completion of any task.
Adults can improve their concentration with special exercises, however, with children one needs to use slightly different strategies. You can help your child increase her concentration in various ways. These strategies will teach her certain habits and rules that, over time, make it easier to focus while doing homework or studying.
1. Divide a Big Task into Smaller Tasks
A big task requires too much concentration and discipline, so it would be a good idea to divide it into smaller tasks. This could be applied to homework, housework and learning new skills. Doing small projects, which lead to the completion of a major project, give the feeling of progress and movement, making it easier to focus. A big task that requires time, dedication and focus, might seem intimating and overwhelming, and can awaken reluctance to tackle. A small task seems easier to carry through and there is less resistance.
2. Reducing Distractions
Unless engaged in something they really like, children might find it difficult to screen out distractions. You need to keep the environment where they learn or study, as distraction-free as possible. Be especially wary of television, loud music, noises, and anything else that might distract the child’s attention.
3. Television and Cell Phones
It is not a good idea to watch TV while doing homework, since this distracts the attention. Text messages and emails also interrupt the concentration. It is recommended not read text messages or use cell phones, while studying and doing homework.
4. Doing Homework at the Same Hour Every Day
Repeating the same activity every day at the same hour, eventually, turns it into a habit. If a child sits down for homework every day at the same hour, after a while, when the hour comes, there will be less effort required to focus. The mind will know that the time for homework has arrived, and would be more willing to study.
5. Give Them Enough Physical Activity
Some physical activity, like playing and some sports, between study and tasks, provides a way to vent out extra energy. This would help the child to be less restless, offset boredom and make it easier focus.
6. Let Children Have Play and Fun
Giving children too many tasks and involving them in too many activities can be overwhelming and tiring for their brains. As a parent you should allow them enough time for pleasure and fun, so they don’t feel too pressurized. Offer a period of play/doing a non-academic task that they enjoy, as a reward for completing a section of their homework or study timetable.
7. Enough Rest
Ensure that the child has enough sleep at night, and also, some rest during the day.
8. Set Time for the Completion of a Goal
Set the time for completing a goal, like ten minutes, twenty minutes, etc. This might help the child to focus, so as to finish the goal within the time limits. However, you should be careful with this, since some children might find setting time limits too pressurizing, and this could cause them anxiety and disturb their focus. Perhaps allow your daughter to offer her suggested time for completing a particular goal/task, that she feels comfortable with (but make sure that it is acceptable).
9. Let Them Play Games that Require Focus
You can train and strengthen a child’s ability to focus by playing games that require thinking. Playing games that require focusing, planning and the use of memory combine fun with concentration. For example, word puzzles and riddles are great for practicing this skill.
10. Allow Some Time before Beginning a New Task
When your child is busy, tell them what they have to do next, but allow a few minutes until they stops and starts the new activity. This advice is more valid, when a child is engaged in doing something that they like and enjoys, since there would be reluctance to stop what they are doing and start do something else.
You are also welcome to take a look at several other blog articles we have, which provide some added advice and ideas on how to improve concentration and general study tips. You can find them here:
I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions and we’ll be happy to assist.