Virtually everything has changed since when we parents were at school. Yet, one of the more recent changes that will have the most significant impact on learners has gone virtually undetected by parents. Certainly, we have not heard any gossip around school carparks about how the South African Department of Basic Education has increased the relative weight of Term 2 towards the final marks for each academic year.
In our opinion, the education department’s idea is an excellent strategy as it encourages early engagement and consistent work throughout the year. It is a wake-up call for learners to not be caught napping, hoping to catch up on a whole year’s neglected schoolwork with a last-ditch cram. Knowledge does not grow or consolidate when you learn like that; it just goes in the one ear and out the other. And when you enter the next grade, and you need those building blocks to be solid, there will be a price to pay if they are not.
So, let us share with you what this change entails and how you and your child can best approach this term for maximum success.
Terms 2 Assessments Now Weighs More/Most
In a recent end of Term 1 newsletter, the headmaster of a leading academic school in the Western Cape writes in his closing remarks, (and in bold print):
Term Two is very important as it contains a major examination for all grades in June. This year the amount the exam counts towards the year mark has been readjusted in a slow return to pre-covid levels: Grade 12: 75%, Grades 11 and 10: 60% and Grade 8 & 9: 40%.”
Given that Term 2 ends 23 June, and that teachers typically need a week or two for grading and reports, most schools will start their end of Term 2 exams by no later than the third or fourth week of May. Then, add the fact that there are six public holidays during this period, some with those delightful break-away long weekends where things restart slowly, and you may realise that your child has no time to waste.
The 4 Elements of an Ideal Study Plan for Term 2
Expect to receive your child’s May/June exam timetable pretty soon. With these dates now looming large in the very near future, here are the elements of an ideal preparation plan you may want to help your child get in place:
- FILL IN GAPS: Catch-up what you missed in Term 1 as quickly as possible. Look at your child’s Term 1 report to identify areas of concern. Your best solution may be to sign your child up for a couple of intensive, private tutoring sessions with an experienced tutor to help your child bridge a gap that may otherwise also affect their understanding of new work. Our FastClass Tutor Centre in Rondebosch is hectic on Saturdays and Sundays with learners finding time to catch up. Others use our weekday online class sessions, busiest between 17h00 – 20h00 each night.
- STAY ON TOP: Encourage healthy study habits and make sure that new work introduced during Term 2 does not create a new set of problems. Lower down, we share valuable study tips that have proven their worth. In our view, the most important habit is to do homework the same day it was assigned in class.
- START EARLY WITH EXAM PREP: It is one thing to know your work. But there is also a skill in writing a good exam. A lot of this has to do with feeling confident about your work when stepping into the exam hall. Starting early, working through past exam papers and growing a strong sense of familiarity with the way learning will be assessed will have a major impact on results. Our tutors incorporate past papers in their sessions and often offer to lay on an extra, final past paper review the evening before an exam.
- LEARN HOW TO LEARN: Good study skills can be taught. Sign your child up for one of our regular Study Skills & Time Management Workshops as soon as possible so they spend their scarce time studying efficiently.
12 Study Tips to Improve Grades
Our children live busy lives. Once connected to the digital universe, they are constantly at risk of distraction. So, do not expect your busy child to suddenly switch to becoming the perfect student overnight. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle described that virtue only comes from the constant practice of good habits. This is the same gradual process with learning. But, here are some things that help get you there quicker. Share these tips with your child and turn it into a habit:
- AVOID DISTRACTION AND CONCENTRATE IN THE CLASSROOM
There is plenty of time during break, at sport practice and after hours to hang out with your friends. Sit far away from distracting friends and remain alert in class.
- IMPORTANCE OF A HOMEWORK BOOK AND CALENDAR
Avoid the last-minute panic. It saps your brain of energy. Ensure you know what is expected well ahead of time by taking careful notes in class, using a homework book.
- COMPLETE ALL HOMEWORK ON THE DAY IT WAS ASSIGNED
Your short-term memory will lose 60%+ of information within 24 hours unless it is refreshed. Doing your homework the same day makes it easier to complete as the concepts are top-of-mind and it also helps you consolidate your new knowledge.
- THINK OF HOMEWORK AS STUDYING FOR TESTS & EXAMS
As you complete homework, identify potential test questions, and make summaries of formulae, key definitions, and lists of facts to remember as if the test is the next day.
- KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Read the course outline. Look at the Table of Contents in your textbook. Get the high-level view of the subject and understand where each week’s work fits into it all.
- FOCUS ON WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW
Do not waste time on what you already know. Identify your problem areas (marked as incorrect in class, homework exercises or tests) and spend 80% of your time on this.
- AVOID HOMEWORK WHATSAPP GROUPS
Getting homework answers from classmates on your WhatsApp group is just copying. There is no learning and you are cheating your teacher as much as cheating yourself.
- ACTIVE NOTE TAKING AND SUMMARISING
Research shows that the active writing of one’s own notes, rather than highlighting your textbook, is still the best way of studying and learning.
- REMEMBER TO ASK AND KNOW WHO TO ASK
You will come across homework questions you cannot solve and then forget them next day. List them where you can make sure you have all questions addressed.
- PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Start doing old test papers well in advance. This reduces text anxiety as you know what to expect. It also helps you identify what you don’t know and where to focus your effort.
- CLEAR SPACE FOR A CLEAR MIND
Your parent is right. A tidy room makes a difference!!! Well, it saves you time looking for books and notes. More importantly, it allows you to feel in control of things. When you feel in control, it reduces stress. Your stress-free brain learns better.
- START EARLY AND GET ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET
Join a tutoring group to stay on top of new work, have your questions answered, difficult topics explained and early exam preparation guided.
This Opinion Piece was submitted by Dr Charl du Plessis (MBA, Yale; PhD, UVA), of Flip-a-Switch Tutoring (www.fastclass.co.za) that offers in-person and online tutoring across all CAPS, IEB and Cambridge subjects. FAST is a subsidiary of The Chapel Lane Academy, a premium online Cambridge high school programme. Comment or questions on 082-452-8110.