Raise Their Grade
Many years of teaching have shown me that the students who consistently do well at their schoolwork, assignments and exams tend to be those who have got control of their work and their timetable. These pupils know what they are supposed to do with each task. They understand what the desired outcome is (what the teacher or examiner expects). Also, they make the physical and mental space to concentrate on their work. So how can you help your child, of any age, become a study ninja and raise their grade?
You Can Help Them Get Organized
If you do nothing else at all, help your child get organized. Without knowing where their notes and books are, or what they have done with the crucial handout they need for an assignment, they are unlikely to do well.
There is going to be a lot of stuff coming their way, especially as they go up the school years, and they need to be able to access their materials quickly and easily. Help them get their paper notes in order in files, their notes organised on the computer and their textbooks together. This will pay dividends when they need to revise for a test or an exam, as well as when they need to produce an assignment, inevitably helping to raise their grade.
Help them to Plan
Planning is a key skill for most subjects and an important transferable life skill. However, the average student starting out neither knows how to plan nor sees the need. An unplanned piece of work will never get the high grade that a carefully planned piece of work will achieve.
For any subject with essays, or writing in English, this is an essential skill. It also applies in exams and tests – just because they are being timed does not mean that they can ignore the planning. That is just an invitation for everything to go wrong!
Help them to get in the habit of thinking about approaches to a piece of work before diving in. What needs to be included? In what order should it be written? Is there anything that needs to be looked up or researched?
We often have older students come to us for a block of tutorials to learn how to plan essays or longer pieces of work. If your child is really struggling with planning, consider booking a professional tutor for some planning sessions. They will be able to teach these skills quite quickly and give your child the tools they need for their academic career.
Check for Knowledge Gaps
A very good way to help a child of any age, at any point in their academic journey, is to help them spot knowledge gaps. These are the bits of the course that, for whatever reason, have not sunk in or do not quite make sense. It might be when they missed school for some reason, like self-isolating. The result is like having pieces missing from a jigsaw. Without all the pieces, you cannot see the full picture.
This is one of the skills that a professional tutor has in their repertoire – the ability to spot learning gaps in your child’s knowledge and then to fill them with your child. But if you decide not to use a tutor, or funds do not allow for the option, you can help your child yourself.
For older students, encourage them to go through their work and make a note of anything they don’t quite understand, any missing notes, and any area where they are struggling for any reason. Once they have identified the gaps they can begin to address them.
For younger students, you can familiarise yourself with the curriculum. See what is required and then talk to your child about their work. Look for hesitation, confusion and frustration. If that is their reaction to a topic, you have probably found a learning gap.
Work Steadily and Regularly
It is always better for students to get into the habit of working steadily and regularly across the academic year, rather than trying to cram like crazy before assignments, tests and exams. Of course, it is tempting to leave things to the last minute and then work frantically to meet a deadline, but it really isn’t the best way to learn or to get high grades. Slow and steady wins the race.
Even if your child really struggles to get into a rhythm and is a real last-minute person, at least encourage them to finish an assignment early enough that they have a chance to revisit it and review it for mistakes before they hand it in. It is amazing how easy it is to spot errors when returning to a piece of work after a break, when we can’t see them at the time. Reviewing and revising means putting in a more polished piece of work and that will raise their grade.
Get Into a Routine
To do well at a qualification, it is usually necessary to do work out of school or college. As your child’s academic journey progresses, the amount of work they need to do outside the classroom increases. By the time they are onto A levels/IB, they will be doing a substantial amount of self-study in order to hit the As/A*s/7s. At university level, they will be working almost entirely independently.
It is very much more effective to get into a study routine rather than just working ad hoc here and there. If you allocate time for them to study throughout the week it allows them to get into a regular routine. This, in turn, means that when leisure time arrives they can kick back and not worry about their work. This becomes incredibly important in the run-up to tests and exams when a full study timetable is the best way forward. This will also help them to raise their grade.
A Bit About the Author, Janet R
I am Dr. Janet Rose, an Oxford University graduate and a trained teacher. I have both a Masters Degree and a DPhil in History, and I have been teaching IGCSE, A-Level and prepping students for the HAT for 13 years.
As well as being a mum, grandmother, professional tutor and education blogger, I am the Founder & Managing Partner of The Tutor Team
We are based in beautiful, rural Wiltshire, in an old converted watermill. We are a family business, where I work with my daughter Tess, my son Anthony and my daughter-in-law Anita. I am also assisted by Lisa, my wonderful PA. We understand parents’ concerns about their children’s education because we are all parents ourselves. That’s why we set extremely high standards for our tutors. We are very proud to have a team of 81 qualified, experienced teachers and university lecturers offering high-quality private tuition.