How many times have you put off something for aaaaaages, because it feels like it’ll be a big scary thing (hello tax return!), only to find when you actually start that it’s less scary than you thought?
The short answer to why your child won’t revise is that it feels like a ‘big scary thing’ to them.
‘Revision’ sounds like a simple concept, but it’s really not.
- Read your notes (boring and passive, not very effective, but the easiest choice)
- Mindmap (gotta learn how first though)
- Make flashcards (but then you’ve gotta use them properly)
- Record your key notes to listen back to (but then you have to listen to the sound of your own voice, and we generally hate that…)
- Try questions (but then there’s the real possibility that you end up feeling stupid because you don’t know the answers yet).
- Do a quiz or make a quiz….. the list goes on.
HOWEVER. For all those techniques, even when you find the ‘right’ ones for you, there’s still a learning curve.
You still have to be able to decide which information is important, and should go in the notes.
You still have to decide which subject to do when, and which topic from within that subject.
You have to make actual DECISIONS. And the stakes are high.
That’s why your child ‘won’t revise’. It’s too scary.
If you’re having the battle with your child about doing some revision, do it with some empathy, however frustrated you are.
Imagine you’re having your bathroom redone. The plumber turns up with his van full of tools, and all the various fittings and fixtures. He rips out the old bathroom, then he trips and falls, and breaks his leg. Your only option is to finish it yourself. You have all his tools, enough spare time, and YouTube will teach you everything you need to know. Trouble is, if you mess it up, you have no bathroom, and you’ll have to pay someone a fortune to fix it. And there’s no-one free for at least 3 months. Where do you start? What do you research first? Does one thing depend on another?
That’s the level of pressure you’re talking about for revision. It’s also the sheer scale and diversity of learning involved.
The best way to start is to just START.
Pick a topic from a subject (everyone has to do fractions in maths, for example), and collect together any notes they have already in their books. Failing that, google ‘fractions GCSE tutorial’ and see what comes up.
You’ll find sites like BBC Bitesize will clearly lay out an overview of the topics within a subject – just check it against the specification for YOUR exam board, or our checklists if you’re a member.
I can’t overstate here the importance of having a plan. (We’ve got a free revision plan generator, so no excuses!)
The anticipation is the worst bit, so starting is the key here. Even if they only do 5 minutes, just start. Get the worst bit over with.
HOW to revise it?
If it’s a memory-based topic (history dates, languages vocabulary), something that’ll get it from your short-term to long-term memory is the way forward. Mindmaps, audio notes, flashcards etc.
If it’s a skill-based topic (most of maths, computer programming, persuasive writing), you get better by doing. Find past paper questions and do a ton. Check them against mark schemes and mark harshly.
The only person you should try to be better than is you…
It’s no good comparing yourself with the person in your class who started revising at the age of 7. It’s no good comparing yourself with your sibling who got 43 grade 9*s.
Have you done a bit of revision? Then you’re doing better than you were yesterday.
Have you tried a past paper? Then you’ve learned a bit more about how the questions are structured, and about what you do and don’t know. You’re doing better than you were yesterday.
That’s the key message to pass along.