Do exams fill you with dread? Even as a parent who is not the one taking the exams? Your child has always struggled with exams in school and maybe even had meltdowns about them earlier on in their school life. You need to find a way to help them with their studies so that they have a really good chance of obtaining the grades they need to go on to college, apprenticeships, 6th form and university. These 5 steps will help your child get the grades all their hard work deserves.
Make a revision plan. You need to sit down on an evening (very soon!) and help your child to plan their revision. First, take a weekly planner and plan out what subject they need to revise each night and at the weekend. Then, take a daily planner and plan out which part of that subject they need to revise and what time they will be doing it. For example, in Geography for the first week you may decide to revise physical geography and then chunk this down further into the parts of physical geography you don’t know such as rocks and resources. Your child will only be able to revise for 20 minutes at a time, so factor in rest breaks for 5-10 minutes ( preferably getting fresh air but incorporating some movement rather than time on social media!) so that they do take in the information properly.
The key advantage of making a plan is to help your child manage their time – something we all know someone with dyslexia finds especially hard!
Know how your child learns best. This step is more important for our dyslexic learners because they have a weak working memory which means that they find it hard to switch the way they learn from their preferred style to another one. Your child may learn best using very visual methods which include converting notes and revision materials to mind maps and diagrams or using video to help them learn. There are many videos on You Tube but I would obtain some recommendations from your child’s teachers as to the best ones for their subjects.
If your child learns best from mind maps, then get them to colour code information . For example, everything to do with Rocks and Resources for Geography could be done in green; everything for Glaciation could be done in blue and so on. Last year I helped a student convert his notes into mind maps for Science and Geography. He passed both GCSE’s which he wasn’t expected to do.
You can be as creative as you want to be with a mind map. There is a lot of mind mapping software out there but I believe hand drawing is best as it is multi – sensory and helps to create ‘memory anchors’. The key points are colour and making a visual image (even a mind map using words creates a ‘picture’).
Your child may learn best by hearing about the subject. These days most children will have a phone on which they can record themselves, so converting their written notes to audio ones is very simple. They can them listen to these over and over again.
If your child has strong visual spatial skills ,linking information with places may be the way to go. You need to pick a familiar place (such as home) or a journey (such as the walk or bus ride to school). Pick out familiar landmarks as a way to help you remember the key facts (every landmark is a particular fact). The advantage of this for some students is that they get to move around whilst revising! There is a good article about this available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationadvice/9900341/Revision-techniques-how-to-build-a-memory-palace.html.
Have soft, classical music playing in the background. For those whose child finds it hard to sit down and concentrate ,it has been shown that having music playing softly in the background can aid their concentration. The best music is classical (think lots of Wagner) – sorry but loud rock music is not the way to go!
Teach the information to someone else. Let your child try and teach you whatever they have been revising, whether it is how to identify language being used for a purpose in a text or how truncated spurs are made in glaciation. When they teach it to you they will have to have a firm knowledge base about the subject to be able to do this. This technique will quickly show up areas that they are unsure of or simply don’t know so it is an invaluable step. You can then reschedule more time on this in their revision plan.
Plan in some rest and relaxation. Your child still needs some down time and be doing activities they enjoy. You will need to help them to strike the right balance between revision and socialising. It is not an easy to achieve this and , of course, with dyslexia it does mean that your child will need more repetition to be able to learn their work. However, it is counter -productive to try and make your child spend every minute revising. Their brain also needs more rest breaks than your average student.
By following these 5 steps your child will have a good structure to their revision time and will ensure that they cover as much of the subjects as possible. Start with those areas they are weakest in so that their revision makes the biggest difference. If your child has incomplete books (this is often a problem for our students with dyslexia) then you can either download a syllabus from the exam board they are using for that subject or buy a reputable revision book as a guide to what they need to know.