Updated: Mar 11
We are coming into exam season now and your attention is turning to your child and how they need to prepare for them. The key issues are that they don't know how to revise and think that nothing works for them. This post looks at the best ways for your dyslexic child to revise.
What does revision mean?
Revision is basically just going back over what you have learnt already. To be able to revise effectively, your child needs to have their school books to hand so that they can go over the work that they have done.
I know a lot of dyslexic children don't have all the information in their books; if this is the case for your child, then you need to contact the teachers and ask for the gaps to be filled in. They should be able to provide handouts on the areas your child needs to revise for that subject.
Other ways to obtain the information are from revision books on that subject, You Tube videos and websites such as BBC bitesize - so don't
panic if your child's books are incomplete but do get started on this straight away.
How Should My Child Revise?
A lot of parents say that their child doesn't know how to revise. There is no one 'right way' to revise and getting this part right has a lot to do with getting to know your child and how they learn.
Sit down with your child and think about the times when they have learnt something. For example, I was talking to a parent this week whose child learnt their times tables by verbally repeating them. I would therefore say that this child learns well by verbally repeating information over and over - so this would make a great revision technique for them, even at GCSE and A level.
I helped a student to convert all the information in his books into mind maps for his GCSE exams, complete with pictures and colour coding to link all the relevant information together. This worked really well for him.
Perhaps your child learns best by watching videos or by moving around whilst they repeat the facts.
If your child has ever had a formal diagnostic assessment ,then it should tell you what their learning strengths are. So if your child has a great visual memory, they will need to exploit this when revising.
If your child doesn't know which revision technique works for them, then my programme ' How to Learn with Dyslexia' explores several different revision strategies which are backed up by evidence that they are effective.
I use all the techniques and ideas in this programme with my students. One in particular found it very difficult to remember and retrieve information for her exams and she has improved her marks from failing to passing.
People who have completed this programme have rated it as 5 stars.
Revision should be active rather than passive - but what does this mean? Passive revision means that your child is just sat down reading or watching something and not doing anything else. In general, this doesn't work!
Active revision, on the other hand, is very effective and works well. To actively revise when your child watches a video, for example, they would write down what it is they need to learn from that video first; whilst watching the video they write down key words to trigger their memory; after watching the video, they summarise the key ideas on a mind map if they like visual diagrams or record them into their phone if they like talking about a subject.
To actively revise when reading, again have an objective in mind ( at the end of this page I need to know the hydrological cycle for example) - then read and make notes ( note making may be recording into their phone; making a mind map or highlighting parts of the page). Then, give them a break and come back and check they can summarise the hydrological cycle by redrawing their mind map.
If your child isn't sure which subjects they need to revise, you could download old question papers and ask your child to work through the questions. The ones that they can't do are the areas that they need to start revising.
This is one of the strategies covered in our programme ' How to Learn with Dyslexia', which will take you through this in more depth and with examples.
The technique goes like this:
- Your child uses active revision to learn their facts for that evening.
- The next day, see if they can still remember the facts. Even if they can, get them to actively revise again and repeat for the next two days.
- If they can remember their facts, then they now don't have to actively revise those facts.
- After 2 days, check that they can still remember the facts.
If they can't, go back to actively revising but you might want to think about how they are revising and change it. If they can, check that they can still remember after 7 days. If they can still remember the facts now, then they are not likely to forget them.
Our programme explores different revision techniques, including ones which store learning in several different places, making it easier for your child to remember and techniques which make their memories stronger.
In my experience schools do not teach effective revision strategies. All dyslexic students have a memory problem, so it is imperative that they know and use effective strategies to store their learning into their memory, and be able to retrieve that information during their exams.
Change Where They Revise
I think we are all conditioned to sit down at a desk and revise in one place - this was definitely the advice for a long time. However, it has been shown that your child can learn by varying up the places they revise in.
So, if your child likes to move around, let them; if they want to go to a coffee shop to revise for a short time, let them. Perhaps the sofa is the perfect place for them, combined with some time at a table. It has also been shown that having classical music playing softly in the background can help with concentration.
In summary, revision is just going back over lessons that you have already done, so that you can show what you know in an exam. There are many different ways to revise which our programme How to Learn with Dyslexia explores.
The key for dyslexic students is knowing how they learn best which may require you to run a few experiments to find out, so knowing different ways to revise will give them a head start.
Use what works and ditch what doesn't - just rereading or rewatching vidoes is one to ditch!
Lastly, make revision active and not a passive activity and vary where your child revises if possible.
If you would like to learn more about our programme ' How to Learn with Dyslexia' please click here.
If you would like free tips and advice about how to help your dyslexic child, please join my Free Facebook group here.