From SATs up to GCSEs and beyond, like it or not, tests are now a big part of our children’s lives. They come thick and fast, and it’s easy for them to feel bogged down in getting ready for tests. But it needn’t be a slog, full of angst and arguments, and with a bit of thought and imagination revision can, dare I say it, actually be quite enjoyable and give your children a real sense of achievement.
There are ways to revise that are much more effective – and fun – than having your head stuck in a book for hours on end. Take the internet – children love it, so why not encourage them to use it to help their revision? Teachers will be happy to point you in the direction of the best sites if you’re not sure where to look. An online video, an activity, even a multiple choice test are great ways to help those facts sink in.
Bring some colour to it
Any excuse to use a variety of coloured pens is also a good idea. My eldest has created some elaborate mind maps to help with her revision, carefully colour-coded and written in her best handwriting. And while sticking these up on the wall temporarily may mean obscuring Ben 10 or Niall from One D, it will help to reinforce the message.
Rhyme and reason
Making up silly rhymes or mnemonics to remember things is another fun idea. “Big elephants can’t always understand small elephants” is the classic for “because”, while I still use the sing along spelling of “necessary” that a friend’s mum once taught me – n e, c e, double ss a r y.
Points mean prizes
It’s a good idea for parents to get involved in revision too. You can take your children on in a head-to-head quiz about what they’ve learnt – a bit of chocolate as a prize can have dramatic effects on how hard they work.
You can take this a step further by having friends round to revise before taking part in a ‘University Challenge’ style quiz with two teams and you taking the role of Jeremy Paxman!
Making learning fun
And of course, there are a whole range of BrainBox games that are perfect for revision. So why not help your children brush up on their French vocab with a BrainBox Let’s Learn French, for instance.
For older children, it’s worth having a chat about why exams and revision matter and why it’s important to get a good, all round education, including learning about things such as quadratic equations or tectonic plates, which they may never come across again .
There are a few basics worth considering, too. Whatever they say, Twitter isn’t a revision aid, and older children might want to come up with a revision timetable. Regular breaks are important, as is getting out to play, getting fresh air and meeting up with friends. Revision shouldn’t mean a complete shutdown, a battening of the hatches to the exclusion of other things they enjoy.
And remember, at the end of the day, it is just a test.
Earlier this year a letter from an Australian head teacher to her eight and nine year old pupils in the run up to their first tests caused an internet storm – for all the right reasons. “There is no one way to ‘test’ all of the wonderful things that make you, YOU!,” the letter concluded, having talked about all those skills the test wouldn’t cover, such as singing, dancing or speaking with confidence in front of the class.
In this day and age, tests do matter, and parents have an important role to play in helping children to revise. But we also have to help keep things in perspective, too.