Students should get a head start over the holidays which will reduce stress and improve their marks down the track.
They are on holiday but their brains aren’t. When students are on a break, they are no longer working their brain at full capacity all day, every day. The brain acts just like a muscle, and needs regular exercise to keep working at its best. Just as when you stop working out at the gym for a few weeks and you drop back your fitness levels, it takes time to get back to the level you were once at.
Doing low level study throughout the break allows your teenager to keep their brain active and helps stay accustomed to working on problems, meaning when they return to school, they’ll be the first in their class to pick up where they left off.
Routine, not willpower
The first time a student sits down to study, it takes a lot of willpower. They need to convince themselves that the time and effort they spend will have a payoff, and the first few times are always the hardest.
The more they engage in study and establish habits and a routine, however, it becomes not only easier to maintain long-term, and it helps give them the willpower to keep going, because they see real results.
Ask for support
Put a friendly disclaimer on the table with family and friends that you'll need to dedicate some hours to studying for the exam. Setting these expectations with them ahead of time will let them know what to expect out of your attendance and participation in various festivities and will also give you some guided support!
If your loved ones get time off of work or are staying with you, don't be afraid to ask them for some help around the house! Having them take your kids to their Christmas recital, walking the dogs, or even simply picking up groceries and preparing dinner will give you extra time to study for the exam and more time to spend with them later!
Study extremely early
Wake up at 4 or 5am to begin studying. We know it’s a lot easier said than done, but trust us—you’ll be a happier person if you’re able to get your studying out of the way when everyone’s sleeping rather than smack in the middle of the afternoon or evening when everyone’s enjoying roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
Whether or not you're a morning person, this one is sure to do the trick. Wake up a few hours earlier than you normally would and start the day with a study session. Then you can utilize the rest of the day to enjoy whatever festive plans lie ahead without feeling guilty and without having to dread studying later in the evening. Less people are apt to bother you as well!
Your teen is on holidays. So are their mates. Why not encourage them to combine both by hosting a study group day with their friends? It may sound boring, but it doesn’t need to be! Group study can be more effective than studying alone, helping students learn in a different style to solo study. Plus, they can make a day of it — a nice study session, followed by a movie or two and some pizza and ice-cream.
Go onto the forum and chats sessions to give your fellow students a lifeline. Students who study at least once a week in a study group with other students are more likely to have a better understanding of the course materials, ask good questions, and be more engaged in discussions. Frustration can really block motivation. Collaborating with others can really keep frustrations at bay.
No, Wikipedia isn’t enough to make fantastic notes from! And it's not going to help you answer that really difficult maths question either.
Make sure you have your notes, textbooks and a cup of tea (of coffee) to hand before you sit down to start your studying. Past papers are available here if you need them and specifications from exam board websites.
If needed you can make flashcards, mindmaps and quizzes and more on TSR and find loads of examples made by other students.
Getting down to some work when there are a lot of distractions and temptations is tough so make sure you reward yourself when you’ve finished an essay, made some notes or learned something. As it’s Christmas there won’t be any issue finding items around you which would make a great reward (like food, re-watching Elf or admiring your fancy new presents).
Remember to reward yourself. It’s the holidays, after all! Indulge in an extra slice of pumpkin pie or take a break and enjoy the company of loved ones after meeting your study goals. You’ll find that making a small reward system for yourself not only reinforces a positive learning experience, but also makes you a happier person overall.
Take a hike
We all know physical activity is good for our bodies, but studies have shown that physical activity is great for the brain as well! Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the brain which increases memory function as well. To put it simply, once you get the blood pumping, you get the wheels turning.
Why not take advantage of the holiday weather and go on a family hike? Chase the kids around. Have a snowball fight, or walk around the neighbourhood and look at the lights. Whatever you plan for the holidays, include physical activity and your kids will stay sharp for the entire season.
Reframe the way you think about study: You’re playing and having fun with ideas
Language is powerful. The words we use and the way an activity is framed can make a huge difference to our motivation levels.
One study found that re-framing an activity as an opportunity to have fun rather than as work led to increases in self-control and participants feeling more energised. Whereas when the same behavior was framed as work, participants had trouble exerting self-control and struggled to finish the task.
So the question is, how on earth can you have fun with your studies?
Some simple ways include: reading interesting books on the subject (read beyond your school book list); visiting interesting places that relate to your subject (e.g., a museum or art gallery); watching relevant TED talks; listening to podcasts; or attending talks by experts at universities in the subject area.
The key thing is you don’t want your holiday study to feel like hard work. To avoid burning out before school starts, keep it fun.
Don't over-do it
Above all else, don’t burn out… It’s Christmas after all! Make sure you’ve found time to do whatever it is that makes Christmas special for you. Maybe you want to laze around eating mince pies and crying over Love Actually? Maybe seeing your friends is what you want to do? Or catching up with family?
Your down time is just as important, and as long as you’ve planned your time well you should be able to have fun and get your work done and return back to school/college feeling ready for the new term.
Think of the school year as being like a marathon, not a fast sprint. You don’t want to run out of steam in the first 200 meters. You can think of the holidays as your pre-training period for the big marathon. Here is your chance to get the basics in place. To establish the habit of snack study, to get familiar with each course, to develop good eating and sleep patterns, to find some places you enjoy studying, to develop an interest in some aspect of each subject area, etc. By the time the marathon starts, your mind will be sharp and you’ll find it easier to learn.