Figuring out which steps to take to ensure that all of your child’s academic needs are met can be difficult, especially when it’s been so many years that you’ve been out of school yourself. In this post, I’ll be sharing three things that parents can do to ensure that their children excel in national exams: the BJC and BGCSE.
1. Help your child to establish a daily study routine.
A daily routine is essential for both adults and children. A daily study routine will help your child to be successful in their academic pursuits. However, for a daily study-routine to ‘stick’ it must be realistic. Students with an unrealistic study routine may say, “I will review everything that I have learned in grades 10-12 in my Mathematics textbook in one day.” An expectation like this is unlikely to be met because of the volume of material that would need to be reviewed in such a short time frame. Something more manageable would be scheduling a longer time-frame, sectioning the material into topics (e.g. trigonometry, calculus, etc.) or focusing primarily on weak subject areas. It is also important to create a list of topics to be reviewed. The list may not be completed in one day, but at least the he or she would have an exact list of what needs to be completed. The student would then be able to breathe a sigh of relief as topics are ticked off of their list.
An effective study routine incorporates scheduled breaks. Your child should try to include short and long breaks each day. A short break may be for ten or fifteen minutes after completing an hour of studying. A long break may be thirty minutes to an hour after completing two or three hours of studying. The length of each student’s break will be unique to them. Some students are able to study four hours or more without any breaks, but some students need a break after an hour or two. The student that takes the break sooner is not inferior to the student who is able to study for a longer period of time because everyone is different and follows their own momentum. If your child tries to push themselves to study for an extended amount of time, knowing that they need frequent breaks, he or she may end up mentally exhausted.
Another area where students are unique is the time of day that they study. Some people naturally wake up really early in the morning to study and find this highly effective. Then again, some students struggle with waking up early but can stay awake into the wee hours of the night reviewing study material. If the child does not have classes or review sessions to attend early in the morning, it is fine for him or her to stay up late studying and begin the next day at 10am or 11am. Both the ‘early-bird’ and the ‘night-owl’ are getting the work done, they are just working at different times of the day.
At some point in the daily schedule, there should also be scheduled review time, for your children to look over material that they’ve learned well and are familiar with. This review time can either be at the beginning of the study session, or nearing the end of it, but it must happen. Most students overlook the review process, and end up forgetting a substantial amount of material. Your child should also stick with studying the way that has always worked best for them. With national examinations being weeks away, now is not the time to experiment with study methods.
The most important part of having a daily study routine is being consistent. If your children are not consistent they will not be adequately prepared for their exams. They are free to take a day or two off from studying each week, depending on the student; however, regular studying should become a part of their weekly schedule. This way, information is stored into long term memory as opposed to cramming information for the short term only.
2. Ensure that they are taking advantage of the resources available to them.
Your children should also take advantage of the resources that are available to them. The Testing and Evaluation Department, a branch of the Ministry of Education, sells past BJC and BGCSE papers at a very low price. There are also some local websites and pages such as the Student Shed and Ansani Bahamas that give students access to pass examination papers. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has also partnered with REV Bahamas to offer daily teaching sessions for students living in New Providence and across the Family Islands. You can check the MOE’s Facebook page for the schedule. The Facebook page lists the channel and the time that each session will be aired for each island. If your children struggle in a specific area, such English Language, you may want them to watch that specific review session often.
If certain topics are still a bit tricky, they can also type that topic into YouTube and watch a few videos on the topic. Personally, YouTube has helped to fill-in several gaps of knowledge I have had in various topics that I’ve studied in Medical School. If your children still need assistance after watching several YouTube videos, they can try to access an online tutor. Your child’s teachers may also be available for assistance. Ask the teacher (or instruct your child to ask the teacher) for a review sheet or syllabus in the event that one has not been provided.
3. Be a bit lenient with your child’s chores and responsibilities.
Many parents do not know this, but preparing for exams can be both physically and mentally taxing. Your child may not be able to complete all of his or her chores or take care of household responsibilities on time. Try not to fuss with your children if they’re taking a bit longer than usual to finish all of their household duties. Give them a bit more time or schedule tasks around the study schedule.
It may be a good idea to discuss with your child/children how much more time they would need to fulfil all of their responsibilities at home during this time of intense studying. Also, please try not to nag the child to get things done while he or she is in the middle of a study session. It may be very difficult to rebuild that level of focus after they step away from their study material.
A peaceful environment will help your child to focus on preparing for exams. As a parent you can do your part to create an environment conducive for studying. Try to be more relaxed, avoid frustration, excessive nagging, loud talking, loud music or loud movie watching. Keep the other children entertained and busy so that the child sitting national examinations can study peacefully. You can also arrange for the child to be in a more conducive environment such as a library or more quiet home or area of the house.
If you don’t have access to Cable T.V., WiFi or devices such as a computer or tablet, try to make arrangements with a friend or family members to ensure your child has the necessary access. Quite a few resources, including Zoom, can be accessed from your mobile phone so look out for data packages from local providers.
Remember this season is temporary Your children will do well in their examinations as long as they put in the work that is required of them and are supported by you and other members of the household.