I’m going to give you a test.
Even as an adult, I would guess that that statement made you feel a bit tense. Exams, tests, and quizzes are part of being a student (particularly as students progress in their education). These are some of the ways that students show and put into practice what they have learnt and how we, as teachers, assess how our students are progressing in their understanding of a subject or course. They can also be a source of stress and concern for students and their parents.
One of the most frequent questions parents and caregivers ask is how to support their children with exams. I like to reframe this question to how we can help our children effectively learn to learn. After all, learning new information and retaining it is an essential skill for young people to develop.
At Senior School Voorschoten, The British School in The Netherlands, we have been leading discussion sessions and workshops with students and families to share tips on effective study habits and how parents can support their children at home. Here is some of the advice and guidance our community has found beneficial.
Five Ways Parents Can Support Their Child’s Learning at Home
Parents and caregivers can provide support in many different ways, some of which may sound obvious and are more practical. It is also important to remember that part of your child’s education is learning to take ownership of their learning. You are there as a support and to encourage, but ultimately, your child should feel their outcomes are their own.
Five Tips for Effective Study:
Before sharing study DOs, a quick note about some of the traditional study methods, which you will notice are not listed below. Many of us may remember feverishly recopying class notes, spending time re-reading and highlighting texts and notes, and that studying was done alone in silence. The research and science about how our brains create connections and how short-term memories become long-term memories have progressed. We know far more about neuroplasticity and, specifically, structural plasticity (how learning results in the brain changing its structure).
We now know that the most effective learning strategies are more active. Just as you train and work your muscles before a marathon, studying should be dynamic and challenging to train your brain to recall information and make connections to past learning.
It’s a Journey!
Learning something new, whether knowledge or skills, often does not happen in a straight line. Like any journey, ups and downs along the way are to be expected. By developing effective learning habits early on, students may still feel nervous before a test, but there will be less panic, and the benefits will go beyond their exam results. The goal, after all, is for our students and children to build on their learning and skills so that they are in the best position to accomplish whatever personal and academic goals they set for themselves.
Nicki has been working in education for over 25 years. Having trained in Manchester and then worked in Salford as a Biology teacher, she moved to the Netherlands, returning to The British School in The Netherlands, where she had studied as a young child. She loves teaching students Biology but also enjoys learning from her colleagues and encouraging them to collaborate and share good practice. She is a mother to four daughters and spends busy weekends juggling all of their activities. Nicki tries to stay fit by running and enjoys travel, trying new foods and reading.