Sunday, 24 March 2013

Revision Techniques

With yet another academic term nearing a close, many home educated students will be turning their minds towards their forthcoming examinations.

Usually most exam centres and schools will require one to register by January for the summer sittings, but many places will accept late entries (usually for a price!)

Revising at home will most probably come naturally to a child who has never been within a school environment, but some students find the whole prospect of revision daunting, and do not know where to start.

I would say along with exam technique (which is actually taught in schools as a singular lesson or at least within classes for GCSEs and A levels), revision is another task one just has to learn and are not spoon fed as they would be in school.
As home educated children are mostly independent learners and therefore can think for themselves, their revision techniques will probably be individual, exclusive only to themselves, making it far more beneficial in the long run.

If a child revises in such a way- whether it is reading a chapter thoroughly, covering it up and writing what they remember down, or repeating it out loud to themselves, or continously trying past papers - they will learn and become masters of revision best if they feel very at ease with their technique.

I can remember our 16yr old son, Ben, asking me a few weeks before his IGCSEs 'Mam, how do you revise?' and feeling inwardly quite shocked as I'd (wrongly) presumed he would just 'know'!  At least he asked ! (and there were about 4 weeks left until the first exam).

We talked about how one retains a piece of information, be it by re-writing it out over and over again, singing it to a special tune, using mnemonics;

Mnemonic is something which we can use to remember things much easier. As is often the case, it could be a phrase, a short song, or something that is quite easily remembered, that we use to remember something that would otherwise be difficult to remember. For example, we may use a phrase to remember a series of numbers, such as the mathematical Pi sequence (3.14159 etc) or an ordered list whose numbers or items are not easily memorized. Mnemonics are a way of remembering using association - associating easy to remember things with data.

I explained the advantages of mind maps which Ben became very fond of. They are also a memory aid- one takes a particular subject or word and draws lines (usually best that they're not straight!) to other connections to jog the memory into remembering. We have a book by Tony Buzan who has written a collection of memory aid books and which Ben enjoyed.
He told me he could actually picture some of his mind maps in certain exams which jogged his memory into recalling certain, important points. There is a specific children's mind map book by Tony Buzan too.

A good time table can also be helpful and the student can design this themselves; it is a good lesson for them to decide what they learn and how long for. There are many sites available to help a student consolidate a comprehensive timetable. When they begin will depend upon the student and what length of time they can concentrate for as everyone has different abilities of deep attentiveness.

Exams are a highly stressful time for many students (and parents!) It is hard watching your child become nervous and anxious over an exam so helping  them to revise as well as possible and use the resources available will lighten the load and help them feel prepared.

Apparently fresh basil is good for the memory too!
And of course a prayer to dear St Fulgentius, patron of students, and the Holy Family!

What exciting, inventive revision techniques do your home educated children employ to help them remember facts and information?