How can you help your child to revise? Teachers at Queen Anne’s School, near Reading, UK, have spent five years working with a team of neuroscientists at universities including Oxford, Reading and Goldsmiths, to understand what no parent ever has: the workings of the teenage brain. The result is the BrainCanDo revision guide, based on science and cognitive psychology.
1. Sniff a lemon
‘Your teenager can condition their brain to work its best during revision and exams,’ says Ben Stephenson, a sports psychologist before going into teaching. One trick is to associate a trigger object or sensation – such as massaging your earlobe or the smell of lemon – with a positive mood, and spend five minutes a day tapping into it. This will send signals ‘directly to the hippocampus, which belongs to the limbic system of the brain and plays a role in emotions and memory’, says Stephenson. ‘On the day of the exam, revisiting your trigger will invoke the same positive emotions. We also found that revising at the same time as the exam will be held helps.’
2. Avoid ‘positivity vampires’
Avoid negative or boastful friends, who may distract or unsettle them. Parents too need to avoid these types of parents. Otherwise the temptation is to go home and tell your already nervous child that so-and-so spends every night revising, which just increases their stress further.
3. Exercise after dinner
Pupils should stop revising at 9pm, switch their phones off soon after, and get into a good sleep routine. ‘We also found exercise in the evening improved teenagers’ concentration levels and results, while working late into the night had the opposite effect. So go for a family walk or jog after dinner.’
4. A good breakfast
‘Don’t ask your child how they’re feeling about exams, and don’t run through practice questions on the morning of an exam. Instead, simply give them a good breakfast and wish them luck.’ And perhaps say a few self-affirmations of your own...
The Daily Telegraph