How hard is it to get your child to study?
Whether you’re living in Spain or the UK, these days it seems like the educational stakes are higher than ever: good grades lead to good courses at good universities and eventually (with a bit of luck) to good jobs at the end of it. Fall at even one of those hurdles, and the task for your child can become infinitely harder.
Which is why helping them get the best start is so important. Whether they’re studying for their A Levels at an international school in Malaga or going through the Spanish system at a local state-run school, one thing’s for sure – they’re very unlikely to do it without lots of hard work.
Here are five ways to get your child to study for their exams…
1. Present the facts
We might well be seeing signs that we’re coming out of global recession, but unemployment in Spain is still around the 25% mark (with over 50% of young people without work according to recent figures). Across Europe the reality is hardly any less stark – in the UK, for instance, current unemployment is around 7.8%. In other words, now is not the time to choose slacking off and an afternoon on the beach over long-term gain. Put it like that, and your young student is sure to understand.
2. Help install a routine
Once the facts of the difficulties involved in getting work without good grades have been established, it’s important to help your child establish a routine. Routine starts at home, with regular meal times and breaks to help them structure their study around – both during term time and throughout the school holidays. It shouldn’t be all about work, however – helping your child get the balance right between studying, relaxing, hanging out with their friends and exercising is the key to their wellbeing, and is a valuable lesson which they’ll take the rest of their lives.
3. Get involved
Once the groundwork has been laid for the establishment of a good routine, it’s important that you get involved in your child’s education. After all, why should they care if you don’t appear to? Helping your child with homework is just one way; taking a general interest in – and talking about – what they’re studying is another. Learning is fun. And who knows, you might even take something really worthwhile (other than an improvement in your child’s education) from it? Getting stuck in and helping them with their homework comes with the added bonus of improving your Spanish, too.
4. Use the carrot
We all like to be praised when we’ve worked hard and done a good job at something. A teenager studying for their exams is absolutely no different. How to motivate your child? Little rewards and regular treats – whether it’s in the form of a particularly nice dinner or a movie night with friends – are an important part of keeping a student motivated in the run-up to their big day. Similarly, a promised reward like a holiday with friends or a new car for getting the grades they need is likely to have the desired effect. Bribery? Maybe. But you see if it doesn’t work.
5. (But don’t forget the stick)
Praise and regular rewards for good work are all well and good, but they may not be enough to get your child to study for their exams. This doesn’t mean harsh, Victorian-style discipline, or anything – simply that if they step out of line, they need to know that the withdrawal of special privileges will follow shortly afterwards. Hitting them in the wallet is always a good way to get their attention, and the withholding of an allowance should soon sharpen their attention on to the job in hand. Any other special attractions – like use of the car, say – that they are provided with can also be just as effective (along with the swift retraction of any carrots previously dangled).
One thing is well worth remembering, though: we were all young once. And not all of us studied quite as hard as we might have done. So cut them a little slack, too. Help them out wherever you can, cross your fingers and trust them to do their best.
6. Don’t panic
Last but by no means least… keep calm – both before, during and after the exam period. While you want your children to do well, knowing that they have a supportive family network who will help them through the next stage whatever happens, is incredibly important. And if they don’t get the grades they’re after? Make sure they realise it’s not the end of the world. From exam retakes to distance learning and adult education, there’s always another way to learn.
Guest post by Phillipa Sudron is writing on behalf of Oxford College: http://www.oxfordcollege.ac/
What tested tips do you have to encourage your children to study? Please share them with our readers …
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