The end of the year is in sight, that means the PSLE and year-end exams are just around the corner. It is around this time that you and your child might be feeling some apprehension. Although it may be normal for nerves to creep in, it’s worth acknowledging that your child has put in hard work and effort throughout the year. It may not seem it, but they are well adjusted to rigors of preparing for a major year-end exam like the PSLE, as they have spent the past year learning and absorbing, sitting for mock tests and exams, and correcting their errors.
The final leg of this marathon, however, still remains a critical time. Spent well it could bring your child into a zone of laser focus, fully prepared to take on the examinations.
Maximise learning with smart revision methods
During the final stages of revision, you want to bolster your child’s confidence, but at the same time ensure they have completely internalised the different concepts. This is the time to reach them using the learning style they flourish in, whether it’s audiobooks for an aural learner or mind maps for a visual learner.
Also, making effective use of the remaining time by testing what your child knows and filling any gaps they might have, would ensure they achieve academic excellence. Through well-studied psychological theories, we map out three strategies you can adopt.
1. Use effective retrieval techniques
Testing your child is one of the most effective ways of learning and revising. The technique of recalling information learnt is termed retrieval practice—a powerful method that allows for knowledge acquisition and ensures long-term retention. The benefit of this technique is twofold: your child feels confident about what they already know and they can correct any mistakes or gaps they might have.
You do not have to be limited to just practise tests. Revise topical units with your child by instructing them to either write, sketch or tell you everything they remember. Pointers can also be condensed into flashcards and this can be used for your retrieval practice. This cycle of testing should be carried out several times, in order to increase accuracy.
2. Improve learning with the spacing effect
For information to stay fresh in our minds, we need to be frequently exposed to it by going over the material repeatedly in daily intervals. Repetition greatly supports internalising and memorising, and has been termed the spacing effect.
German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus first identified this after studying the curves of learning and forgetting. Help them to create a study plan and schedule a few topics of a subject over a few days and help your child revise the material, familiarising them with it so they can gain mastery with confidence.
3. Understand your child’s learning style
According to the VARK model, each student has a distinct style of learning and falls into one of the four main types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Understanding where your child fits and how they best take in information could help you and your child avoid frustrations and ensure they enjoy the material they study. During the last few weeks of preparing for the PSLE, condense the study material into the optimal medium.
Visual learners would learn best when guided by images and symbols like flowcharts, graphs and models. Read/write learners take in information mainly through text and so written notes and placards would work best. Kinesthetic learners rely on experiential learning and would enjoy having verbal iterations together with you to go through the subjects.
Revise with your child and be a pillar of support
Like any other concerned parent in Singapore, you may feel the need to stress the importance of the PSLE right before the examinations. It might be your way of pushing them to do their best. Resist the temptation to do so as this can only overwhelm your child and make them feel paralysed by fear. You want to be as supportive as possible, guiding them through the final stages of preparing for their examinations. Be their cheerleader, a source of motivation and instil confidence in them to focus, persevere and ace the examinations.