What do you mean by “an audience”?
Revision for GCSEs and A-Levels can be a lonely business. Your son or daughter will be in their study space, isolated potentially for hours on end, facing the uphill battle of exam prep all by themselves. Many students get through their exam period in isolation, but in our view, they are missing out on an important and effective additional study dimension --- showing their knowledge to an audience, in this case, to you.
It may not work for all subjects, but you could become a sounding board, tester, checker and general listener as they run through their vocab, knowledge or anything else they’ve been learning.
What would this accomplish?
As time wears on, students are taking on and attempting to retain an ever-increasing volume of knowledge and course material. They may be using flashcards, note cards or other methods to remember it, but there’s nothing quite like active recital or presentation to force learners to make use of words and concepts they are studying. Below are the many benefits of this approach:
1) For language learning --- reciting vocabulary as you check the answers is a great way for them to check their progress without doing the common mental gymnastics that accompanies some self-study situations. Students studying alone may convince themselves that they did know that one, really, but just couldn’t conjure it up at the moment. When being tested by you, there’s no room for this kind of error.
2) In any subject --- it’s one thing to get material into your head and even to write it out on paper, but it’s another thing to be able to speak aloud and talk about it articulately. Having your kids present their knowledge orally is a fantastic practice, forcing them to organise and express their thoughts.
3) In any subject --- it helps with retention and builds their confidence. As they find they can say the math formulae aloud, or recite their vocabulary, or remember quotations from a Shakespeare play, they start to realise how much they’ve learned and how much is sticking. Using it in a conversation or presentation is a good way to ensure better retention.
4) It’s a fun experience that is a good opportunity to bond and connect with your kids. During GCSE and A-Level exam time, your teenagers may become increasingly distant, off in their own world that you seem to have no place in. This activity is a good way to become a part of their journey.
5) You’ll be better able to empathise and know what they’re going through. As we mentioned in our sixth article about being empathetic and supportive, it’s important for you to understand what your son or daughter are going through instead of trying to dismiss it as overly dramatic or overstated stress. Making yourself a part of the revision process will help that understanding to come about.
6) In any subject --- it adds a whole new dimension to the revision. When students are revising, using a variety of methods is a good thing because it keeps the mind fresh, alert and active. The new challenge of having to present the information, even teach it to you, will give them a new zest and zeal. In rising to that challenge, they will grow and deepen their understanding of their school subjects.
What if there’s no time?
If you don’t have time for a sit-down discussion about the revision work, then you could incorporate it into other parts of the day. You could have them tell you about it in the car on the way to school or the supermarket. You could also talk about it as a family around the dinner table. Becoming their audience ensures that you are a firm part of this revision and exam journey, which will bring invaluable benefit to everyone concerned.