The PSLE written examinations begin in three weeks. How can you keep your children motivated through this final stretch? Teach them to study smart, The Learning Lab teacher Cassondra Tioh tells us
Study smart. It isn’t about clocking studying hours or memorising a mountain of information. Studying smart means adopting effective learning strategies that maximise your child’s revision time, says Cassondra Tioh. The English Teacher at The Learning Lab, a tuition and enrichment centre known for its ability to bring out the best in children’s academic learning, shares these five ways to help your child study smart to make the most out of the limited time left before the exams. She has advice for parents too (be good and read all the way to the end).
1. Start with a Timetable
By now, time is a luxury. With less than a month to the exams, you will need to help your child prioritise from revision of his weakest subject. The first thing to do is to organise his work. Sit down with your child and go over the subjects and areas that he needs most help in. Together, agree on a list of tasks to be completed everyday leading up to the big day. Do a little a day; it all adds up and your child will benefit from prioritising revision of his weakest subject.
2. Know your Child’s (Strengths and) Weaknesses
More often than not, you will find that your child is making the same (exasperating) mistake over and over again. It could be a particular component, question type, or topic. If your first thought is to get your child to do another assessment paper for that subject, stop. Instead of relentlessly clearing assessment papers, one after another, have targetted practices.
First, conduct an error analysis, then focus on your child’s common pitfalls. Teach him how to apply the answering skills needed. This will help familiarise your child with the material and also boost his or her confidence in taking on a perceived difficult question. Remember, quality, not quantity, is the best measure of intelligent effort. And that’s what it means to study smart.
3. Set Realistic, Achievable Goals
Besides managing your child’s schedule, talk to your child and discuss the milestones both of you would like to reach at different stages of the revision. It could be 10 new phrases by the end of the day or mastering the transition from direct to reported speech in ten days. Tiny, attainable goals help keep your child motivated and make revision seem less daunting.
4. Remember to Take Breaks
There is virtue not only in work, but also in rest! Even for an adult, it would be demanding for you to remain seated, hunched over a desk for an extended period of time. So have your child take regular study breaks so that he or she can unwind while consolidating the lessons learnt. It could be chatting with a family member or reading a chapter of his favourite novel — a break is necessary to reinvigorate your child so that he has the learning stamina to last through the final intensive month.
5. Stay Calm
It’s the day before the exam — do not cram! Everything that can be done, should have been done by this time. Last minute panic will only do more harm than good. Have your child review notes on what he or she has already mastered. He or she can even engage in self-testing to ensure that he or she clearly understands concepts and materials. Do ensure that your child has packed his or her school supplies and turns in early. A good night’s rest forges your child’s battle-readiness.
On a Final Note…
Dear (anxious) Parents,
As you stand by the sidelines and watch your child march into battle, your most important role is to be a cheerleader.
Praise your child for work that he or she achieves, and in the case of failure, be nurturing and guide him or her towards overcoming the mistake.
To ensure that your child’s mental and emotional well-being are not overlooked, make it a point to talk to your child through his difficulties and insecurities. Your anxieties often rub off on your child and may cause undue stress. So, be supportive and remind your child that he or she can always turn to you for help.
The PSLE is just the first hurdle of the academic race. Even if your child stumbles, he or she should know that regardless of the outcome, you love him or her. There are many routes to excellence and some children are late bloomers. As long as your child has a positive growth mindset, your child can always pick himself or herself up and charge ahead.
All the best!