What do we know about the brain and learning?
- On average the brain needs to be exposed to items four times before transfer to longterm memory happens.
- Forgetting information is not only normal but a very important step in the learning
- Every time we draw on a memory, we increase its strength and longevity.
- Interruptions slow learning and increase our chances of making mistakes so it is very
- important to limit distractions during study sessions.
- Revision topics should be spaced out and mixed up.
- Content can be broken down into chunks which are easier to remember.
- Learning is an active process and students must take deliberate steps to remember
- important information.
- Effective revision requires effort and recall of information from memory.
- Cramming is not effective as information that is quickly learned is also quickly forgotten.
Effective ways to learn
Look through the information in your child’s book/notes and create questions. When?
Where? Who? Why? Can you elaborate?
The brain finds its easier to process pictures. Mind maps, graphic organisers and text maps
are three ways students can use images to help them remember. Transferring material into a different format strengthens connections in the brain.
Story telling / mnemonics
The brain finds it easier to recall stories so some content could be turned into a story that is easier to recall.
Quizzes or challenge grids
Students can easily create these from their notes but they should make sure they create an answer sheet to go with them. Identifying what they cannot yet recall is a vital part of their learning journey. Encourage your child to regularly create these after class so that throughout the whole course they will have a bank of resources they can use at any time.
On a plain piece of paper encourage your child to write, draw or list any information on the chosen topic as they can. Once they have recalled everything they can, they should check their notes to see what they have missed.
Flashcards are a very useful revision tool as they are portable, easy and cheap to make. Each flashcard should contain only one piece of information and students should test themselves in both directions.
Mini whiteboards can be used to learn pieces of text such as a quote. The text can either be reduced down to the first letter of each word or students can remove a word one at the time whilst repeatedly saying the quote.
Past papers / exam questions
When tackling a past paper, students should stick to the exam times. Correcting the paper is a vital part of effective revision and students should always correct any errors and view them as an important next step in their revision.
Creating the right environment for learning at home
- Encourage your child to complete revision early morning or straight after school, late
- night revision should be avoided.
- Ensure that your child has somewhere quiet to revise so that they are able to focus.
- Research suggests that having technology available during revision can, lower
- concentration, negatively, reduce memory and effect sleep patterns. Ask your child to
- avoid technology during their revision sessions.
- Make sure your child includes appropriate breaks between revision sessions and make
- sure that you are stocked up on some healthy revision break snacks to keep them going
- between meals.
- Use flash cards to do a quick fire quizzes to test learning once your child feels confident
- and ready to give it a go. You could also ask your child to teach you about something
- they have been revising.
- Talk to your child and find out what areas they feel confident in and what are the
- subjects they are concerned about.
- Encourage your child to see the benefits of working hard and doing well in their exams.
- Some parents like to offer rewards, but it’s also important that your child wants to
- succeed for themselves and not just for the reward.
- Perhaps organise a nice surprise for the end of Mock exams to celebrate together.