Get detailed feedback on their test results
If at all possible see if you can get detailed feedback on the test results from the class teacher. There should already be comments and marking on the assignment paper, so that may be sufficient to give you a good idea of what went wrong and what needs work. Sit down with your child and go over it carefully and calmly. Bear in mind they might be feeling anxious about it and will undoubtedly be feeling disappointed, so a softly-softly approach is likely to work best. Try to identify exactly what the teacher is saying and how the work can be improved. If you are still unsure (which may well be the case as educational language is often obtuse) your child could ask the teacher for more detailed feedback or for clarification of their remarks.
Make a study strategy
Once you have identified which areas need improvement, make a study strategy with your child. How are they going to improve? Do they need to read more? Do they need additional practice? Are their practice exam papers they can work on? Make time in their schedule for them to focus on the subject without pressure so they can start to build confidence through practice.
If they don’t understand at all, will a creative approach work? You could take them to the theatre to watch the play they are studying in English, or to a museum or exhibit to get a better feel of a period they are studying in history. If they are studying music you could take them to a musical performance of the pieces they are learning, or for art history you could take them to a gallery so they can see paintings in situ. It is really important to make your child feel supported and be clear that you are trying to help, not interfere. Thinking creatively about how to help them can go a long way to making them feel supported.
Once your study strategy is underway, keep an eye on progress (or lack of progress). Is your strategy working? Is your child feeling happier about the problem areas? Are they gaining confidence? Are their marks going up? The only way to know if it is working, as any private tutor will tell you, is to keep monitoring and evaluating.
You are looking for small, steady gains. The best study strategies will build knowledge, skills and confidence steadily. Cramming rarely works in terms of embedding skills and modern qualifications test skills as well as knowledge. If your strategy isn’t working, you will need to adapt what you are doing. Those of us who tutor children professionally know that sometimes it takes several attempts to find what works for an individual child – every child is an individual. What is certain, however, is that patience, creativity and a supportive environment will pay dividends in the end.
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