by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
My soon-to-be 14-year-old son finished exams yesterday and boy did his parents ever learn a lot!
We got quizzed, tested, stumped and were ultimately forced to find the right answer.
The issue is this: do you know when to allow a child to find answers on their own and when to put that independence on hold, replacing it with parental support?
In the two years that he has been writing exams, we've always required that he prepare his own review notes, organize an exam study schedule — in other words lay out a simple plan to handle exam preparation, with no parental interference.
What I realized this time around (in the past two weeks or so) is that he was still too young to handle these tasks on his own. That parental support is required.
The other thing I learned is that schools, by and large, really don't teach kids organizational skills. You know, keeping notes and papers and materials civilized and easy to refer to.
My son is a fairly organized kid with his room, closet, activity gear, etc., but that does not necessarily translate to a neatly-kept binder.
So we found him a teacher who actually instructs kids on organizational skills. She teaches grade 7 and 8 and tutors children as well. One 60-minute session seemed to work wonders for our son. He came out of it like a humongous grand piano was lifted off his back. He seemed to feel empowered with his new strategy on being better organized.
Apart from the paperwork management skills, it also opened the door to a new way of studying that he was not aware of. The idea that remember key words or trigger terms is more effective than memorizing whole paragraphs of information that could short circuit all the brain wiring with information overload. Perhaps he knew this, but the concept was reinforced largely by his bullet-point-brained mother who can barely remember her address!
When it came to reviewing with him, which we've always done, he seemed to be so much more in control. What was challenging is that he is a fairly quiet kid by nature who does well in school, so we never thought to delve deeper into these issues. Funny how kids always teach their parents something or another!
Exam fever in our house this year morphed into exam fervour. The combination of parental support and educational expertise certainly helped with his exam preparation and hopefully that will carry through to next school year from locker to knapsack to binder to brain.
Goodness knows you never know what you may find in any of those places!!