I can’t believe that we’re approaching the last day of the first term in the 2019 academic year! This means that the winter exam season awaits us in a few weeks (spoiler-alert). This time last year, I remember being overwhelmed with my son’s transition between grade three and grade four. Then, just as I got into a rhythm, I was faced with the reality that he would be writing exams for the first time and I had to figure out how to help him to study.
This motivated me to share a few study tips to prepare you to help your child to study and get them ready for the transition; especially if your child is writing exams for the first time.
First, let me tell you a bit about why grade four was such a “big deal” and adjustment for us:
- The move from foundation phase to intermediate phase means that the workload increases significantly.
- The students are required to be more independent and think on their own, because the teachers generally stop spoon-feeding them in areas where they previously were. For example, they become responsible for checking their daily roster and packing their bags for just the subjects of the day, because there are so many more books. Another one example I can think of, is that most schools allow them to get lockers at this stage and again, it’s their responsibility to remember to pack the right books, for the right subjects of the day before school and during lunch. It can be really overwhelming.
- At grade four level, they start switching classes and teachers for different subjects, across the school, which is a big change from having one teacher only.
- For the first time, they have projects, cycle tests and exams for almost every subject.
- Getting them up to speed to study independently takes time.
And now for the study tips:
- Don’t wait for tests and exams to start studying – get your child into the habit of revising the day’s work, every afternoon. This way, by the time your child has to prepare for the exam, they are already familiar with the main themes for each subject. I work full time and get home quite late in the afternoons, so this has become an important habit to embed.
- Get your child used to a blended approach to learning – you can do this by including online learning resources into your study routine. Vodacom e-School has been a great addition to ours, because a lot of the time, I am unfamiliar with the content that has to be studied. Having a digital platform that covers all the topics brings a lot of relief to me and it’s great revision for him. Best of all – it’s free and covers learning resources from Grade R-12! You can use it on your tablet, desktop or mobile. All E-school material is developed by expert teachers, CAPS aligned and is endorsed by the Department of Education.
- Understand what kind of learner your child is – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to studying with your child. Each of them are different leaners, with different paces. Identify whether your child is a visual, kinaesthetic or auditory learner, so that you can adapt your assistance to suit their preference. This can be a game-changer to your approach. You can read more on this topic in this post.
- Maintain physical and cultural activities – you may be tempted to pull your child out of their extra murals to enable them to focus on school, however, these are just as important as the academic stuff. It’s important for children to get exercise, fresh air and social interaction with others.
- Practice time management at home – when it comes to tests and exams, children will be given a limited time in which to complete their work. If they are unfamiliar with the time constraints, this will bring about a great deal of anxiety. I would advise that you get some mock tests and get them to go through them over the weekend, while timing them on your phone. This will assist with getting them used to the time pressures.
- Watch out for stress – your child may struggle to verbally communicate feelings of stress, but there are other signs you can look out for, such as excuses for not going to school, being easily upset or irritable and lack of interest in other activities. Make time to discuss school and emotions in general, on a regular basis. I know it can be hard for busy working moms, but that sense of presence is invaluable.
It’s important to remember that each child is unique; always customise your approach to their personality, maturity and learning style.
Do you have any study hacks that have worked for your child? I would love to hear them.
If you found this piece interesting, please do share it with other parents with school-going children.
Modern Zulu Mom