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Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Summer holiday catch-up for GCSE and A-Level students

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Now that the exam season is all but finished, it might be time for your older children to think about how they can use the summer holiday break to get a head start, catch up and/or improve on areas where they haven’t performed as well as they might have wished. This is particularly important for students who have just completed Year 9 who will soon begin their GCSE courses, and for those in Years 10 or 12, who will be moving into the critical final phases of GCSE and A-Level next year.

That said, for students in this age group doing a bit of work and catching up over the summer holiday break isn’t just for those who have failed or underperformed in exams. It is also a great opportunity to get a head start and/or keep information fresher. The summer holiday break is quite long: six weeks or so for state schools, around eight weeks for many independent day schools and even more for many boarding schools. Even bright students often lose ground during this time, getting out of good habits, forgetting key information and neglecting skills that they had developed to a high level for the previous exam season.

Three subject areas most at risk from this ‘slippage’ are Maths, Science and modern languages. There are two reasons for this. First, they are among the most difficult subjects any student will be working on, especially at A-Level. Second, each one combines relatively difficult skills with a large amount of knowledge that needs to be learned.

Maths, Science and languages require the student both to develop skills (e.g., solving complex equations; designing, conducting and writing up experiments; forming grammatical sentences) and learn a great deal of information (formulae, physical laws, names of elements and compounds, long lists of vocabulary and tables of noun and verb forms).

It’s not necessary for students to spend their entire summer holiday revising all this stuff to stay on top of it – everyone needs a break, after all. The trick is to ensure that knowledge, skills and relevant thinking habits don’t just drop to the bottom of their minds for six, eight or ten weeks. As a parent, there are several ways you can help:

  • Travel can make an enormous difference. If your child is learning French and German, consider a visit to one country or the other for a holiday or short break.
  • Think about a visit to the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum in London. These aren’t just resources for younger kids – they contain a great deal of thought-provoking, inspirational material for older students, too.
  • Encourage reading – something we’ve blogged about recently.
  • More engaged students can be encouraged to actually pick up their school books during the holiday and have a quick refresher read. You could give them some sort of incentive to do this.
  • Switch on the telly! Keep an eye on the TV listings for programmes relevant to particular areas of study, and encourage them to watch. There’s also tons of good stuff on YouTube, iTunes U and the web in general.
  • Consider hiring a tutor, especially if your child underperformed in the end of year exams. Summer holiday tutoring doesn’t have to be intensive: a ‘slow burn’ approach to help students reinforce key ideas can work very well. It is a worthwhile summer holiday activity that keeps them occupied

If you live in the Greater Manchester or East Cheshire area and you’d like to find out more about how summer holiday tutoring can help your child – especially in tricky subjects like Maths, Science and modern languages – don’t hesitate to get in touch with 121 Home Tutors. We’ll be very happy to advise you, and, if you wish, put you in touch with tutors relevant to your child’s needs.