Ready for school

For many students, being asked if they had school work to do over the summer is close to a mortal wounding. But it makes sense to think about it now.

Most of us are desperately clinging to the last moments of summer. Even if the sun isn’t shining. For our teens that can mean the important business of doing nothing for as long as possible. Mostly with the protest “don’t ruin my holidays by making me think about school”. However, pretending that the start of school isn’t around the corner won’t help them in the end. Especially if they are coming into their GCSE and A-Level exam years.

Here’s why:

Keep anxiety at bay by tackling head on

When we put something off, especially when there’s a deadline, it plays on our minds. How much will vary by person. For some, this could be in that moment before going to sleep. It’s a mix of guilt and dread. This tends to have the overall effect of making the thing – school work – a much bigger monster than it needs to be. For some, the amount of time actively avoiding work might actually exceed the time the work would take! Tackling the work and getting it done not only removes those mental burdens but often makes us feel quite self-satisfied and stress-free.

Consolidate learning ready

Your teachers set homework has been set for a reason, and it wasn’t to spoil your summer break. Last year was a difficult year for many with interrupted schooling and often areas of the curriculum that weren’t covered. While it would be extremely unusual to be asked to cover new topics independently, it makes perfect sense to go over previous work. This will help your recall and build a solid base to launch into the 2021/22 academic year.

Good habits to get into

Bad habits always seem much easier to get into than good ones. Putting off until the last minute is one of those. There’s something in the immediate rewards our teens perceive with spending time on their phones. But the process of planning and executing that plan is a crucial life skill. And with all good habits, the sooner you start the better. Getting into the rhythm of working through tasks now will pay dividends when it comes to revising for the exams.

Little and often

There are a few significant benefits to spreading a workload out over time. The first is that learning is more effective. This is called spaced learning and helps to combat the forgetting curve – the fact that learning we don’t call on is steadily more difficult to recall over time. Returning to previous knowledge (in the form of retrieval practice) after a given period of time is the best most effective way of strengthening memory.

We all have to deal with things we don’t want to do!

It is a harsh fact of life that we all have things that we are obligated to do, even if we don’t want to. All of us can call on one or to things we’d put into this list! But the reality is that we have to do them. That is very much the same for our teens. Of course, they only “have to” study if they want to fulfil their potential and, more immediately, have to deal with the embarrassment of getting to class having not done the work.