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2023 Blogs Junior Senior Sixth Form

How to Create the Ideal Environment for Effective Revision at Home

Year 7 went on a team building trip to Osmington Bay PGL centre for a weekend of activities and friendships.

How to Create the Ideal Environment for Effective Revision at Home

Year 7 went on a team building trip to Osmington Bay PGL centre for a weekend of activities and friendships.

Let’s face it: studying for exams has been given bad press. The workload and the pressure of succeeding amount to an experience many children find particularly challenging, so it’s important for their domestic environment to be as supportive of their needs as possible.

Our brains are curious and complex instruments and have specific conditions under which they perform certain tasks optimally. While it is very true that every child is an individual, it is equally true that they share this tendency to operate most successfully when particular parameters are met. These range from the obvious to the potentially inconspicuous, so we’ve drawn up a quick summary of the things every parent and guardian should be thinking about in order to achieve this productive and harmonious environment.

 

Create a Designated Study Space

 

Thanks to the positional update effect – or the doorway effect, as it’s more commonly known – our brains adjust their neuronal activity according to where we are and the things we might expect to be doing in that particular place. It’s the reason behind walking into a room and forgetting what you went in there for.

 

This adjustment of performance according to expected activity means that a child will more likely be successful in their interactions if the space they perform them in is specifically designated for that activity.

 

Make sure the space is clean and clutter-free and encourage your child to organise and modify it to best accommodate their needs – within reason, of course.

 

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

 

This is obviously an important aspect of parenthood at any time, but arguably never more so than during the months of study and revision. A balanced and healthy diet is known to encourage optimal cognitive function and – while it may seem counter-productive to be sending your child away from their studies – a regular routine of physical exercise is beneficial for everything from the reduction of stress and anxiety, to minimising fatigue and supporting focus.

 

Another key factor is sleep. Assuring that your child has a good sleep pattern is vital, even if it means forgoing the late-night study sessions.  

 

Be mindful of your surroundings

 

The ideal settings for productive revision are much the same at home as they are in the classroom. Firstly, the space should have plenty of light. Working in a poorly-lit space is likely to affect the efficiency of the work. As is often the case, natural light is best, but our homes are not always set out in such a way as to accommodate this need – and at least some of a child’s studies will be done on dark days or in the early evening – so access to plenty of alternative light sources is paramount.

 

Similar to light, temperature makes a big difference to our ability to function properly. The drowsiness of being too warm and the fidgety energy of being too cold can be devastating to our capacity for clear thought and sustained focus. In the event that the environmental conditions are out of your control, consider a change of clothing. Comfort is essential.

 

The third major tributary to the ambient environment of a child’s study area is its noise levels.  Avoid positioning the space anywhere that is within earshot – or view – of a television and aim for it to be somewhere that doesn’t act as a thoroughfare for the traffic of the house.

 

Circumstances might not always allow for all – if any – of these environmental ideals to be fulfilled, but, when possible, they are all worth bearing in mind when thinking about potential areas for studying.

 

Set a Manageable Timetable

 

Time-management is a valuable skill and one which can always do with refinement. Adhering to a pre-set series of obligations is a good way of teaching a child how to make the most productive use of their time and requires organisation and commitment, all of which are valuable tools to have in your belt.

 

It may seem obvious, but having a clock easily visible from the area is a must: it keeps the child aware of where they are in their timetable without having to check their digital devices.  If possible, a clock without a loud ticking noise would be ideal.

 

Encourage Breaks and a Healthy Work/Life Balance

 

Whilst having a routine is undoubtedly important, maintaining the right balance between work and non-work is every bit as vital. Fatigue and burnout can be pressing issues for those preparing for exams – and children may be missing the vocabulary or confidence or experience to give voice to their struggles – so it’s important that they are reminded to take a step back from their pressures at regular intervals.

 

Set Rules for the Use of Technology and Social Media

 

Distractions of any kind are not the friend of focus and concentration.  With the proliferation of technology and applications whose very design is to attract your attention as often as possible, the job of maintaining concentration has become a real concern for many of us, adults and children alike.

The easiest way to ensure adherence is to remove the temptation. If possible, enforce a regime of when their phones and social media accounts should be accessible and try to stick to it. Unfortunately, social anxieties sometimes make this approach untenable, but there is often a navigable compromise available.

 

Communicate

 

None of us are immune to life’s pressures or stresses. Sometimes, it’s good for your child to hear others mirror their experience and to know that they aren’t alone in their worries. This will create an open channel of communication and will make it more likely that your child will confide any later struggles they may have with you or any other part of their support structure. When it comes to healthy dialogue, remember: sharing is caring.

 

Become the Student

 

Memory capacity is strongly linked with repetition. This becomes even more effective when the reproduction of the data takes many different forms. One easy way to introduce the practice is to have them take the role of teacher, with you as a student. Listen to the points they make and be ready to ask questions. This articulation will assist in their retention as well as broadening the scope of your communication and breadth of shared experience.

 

Reward Hard Work and Employ Positive Reinforcement

 

Sometimes it can seem as though life is just all hard work, with no real benefit. This is a feeling that will probably arise at some point for most of us, but it is not one you would want a child to feel during their exam preparations. Regular rewards and random acts of positive reinforcement create an environment where their work is linked with good outcomes. These needn’t be extravagant or expensive, but merely pleasant accents to their routine of productive studies.

 

Work to Live; Live to Learn

 

Learning new things should be an exciting and joyous experience and the way we teach our children to deal with pressures and stress could make all the difference – not only in their results, but in how they react to the pressures later in life too. As we’ve seen, setting the correct scene for their studies can play a significant part in how productive those crucial months can be.

Ollie is a QEH 'lifer', as he joined QEH Juniors in Year 3, eleven years ago.  It's been great to watch his development through the years, both on and off the pitch.

Thank you Friends of QEH!

Ollie is a QEH 'lifer', as he joined QEH Juniors in Year 3, eleven years ago.  It's been great to watch his development through the years, both on and off the pitch.

Ollie signs for the Bears!

As well as being Head of Religion and Philosophy, Zak leads our digital vision. He was instrumental in developing our excellent online learning offering during lockdown, much to the relief of our parents, and is now leading the roll out of our school device programme.

Year 9 rise to the Challenge

On Monday, Year 7 were finally able to go on their long awaited trip to Margam Park!

Year 7 at Margam Park

There is no doubt in my mind that were it not for QEH, and ALL the staff within it, he would not have achieved so much nor would he be the person he is today.
Parent of Former Pupil
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