Inspire - Transform - Succeed

GCSE Support

Useful Information:

Apprenticeships – An Alternative to University Parent Pamphlet

Apps Pamphlet

Aspirations Parent Pamphlet

Building Resilience Parent Pamphlet

Encouraging Independence Parent Pamphlet

Transition into secondary school Parent Pamphlet

Work Experience Parent Pamphlet

Sleep Parent Pamphlet

Social Media Parent Pamphlet

Screen Time Parent Pamphlet

How to support re-visiting of learning Parent Pamphlet

How to help develop reading and vocabulary Parent Pamphlet

Hobbies & Opportunities Parent Pamphlet

How to encourage productive learning Parent Pamphlet

Helping your child get into good habits Parent Pamphlet

Handling the pressure of external exams Parent Pamphlet

How to help develop reading and vocabulary Parent Pamphlet

Handling the pressure of external exams Parent Pamphlet

Self-care for teenagers Parent Pamphlet

Relaxation Parent Pamphlet

Mental Health Parent Pamphlet

Positive relationships and social connections Parent Pamphlet

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Aspirations

 

Three things to know:

 

  • Aspirations reflect teenagers’ hopes or desires to attain a particular level of education or reach a career. Studies show that students with either high aspirations or high expectations have higher school achievement than those with both low aspirations and low expectations.
  • Research suggests that there is a correlation between teenage goals, aspirations and psychological wellbeing. Raising aspirations is also believed to incentivise improved attainment.
  • Further studies have shown that parents believe their child will find it harder to achieve their life goals than they themselves did because there is more competition for job roles than they faced when they started their careers. According to research from the Education Endowment Foundation, most young people actually have high aspirations.

 

 

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • Talk to your child about their career, education or life aspirations. Be positive about what their hopes and dreams are and encourage them to start to be proactive in achieving them.
  • Try to raise your child’s aspirations by exposing them to new opportunities. Develop their self-esteem, motivation and expose them to role models to look up to. Inspire your child to be excited about their future and motivate them to pursue their dreams.
  • Young people who take part in family time or activities with their parents are more likely to continue these, achieve in education and seek out career opportunities. Arrange to do things with your child such as theatre trips, cultural activities, concerts, museums, hobbies or exercising.

 

  

Sleep

 

Three things to know:

 

  • The Sleep Council highlights how quality sleep is essential for growth and development and that your child needs between 8-10 hours sleep every night. Teens’ body clocks naturally shift to make them feel tired later in the evening, but early school starts do not enable them to sleep in the mornings. Chronic sleep deprivation can have a huge effect on a teenager’s life and mental wellbeing.
  • Teens need more sleep than adults. Research shows that the brain's ability to process information declines with lack of sleep. Our emotional responses, empathy towards others and tendency to do silly things all goes up with lack of sleep. Long term sleep deprivation can suppress the immune system, lead to forms of cancer, heart disease and metabolic abnormalities.
  • Further research shows that there is a link between getting enough sleep, sleep awareness and student performance. Numerous studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can negatively affect school performance and impair cognitive function.

 

 

 

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • Help your child establish a good sleep routine. Encourage them to limit screen time before bed and to read a book or magazine instead. Get them to keep a sleep diary over a two-week period to see how much sleep they are getting and how they can improve it. Have a conversation with your child about their sleep.
  • Eating late at night is not good for digestion or aiding a better night’s sleep. Make sure your child avoids sugary and heavy foods late at night and doesn’t drink caffeine or energy drinks from lunchtime onwards. Healthy habits such as warm milk or camomile tea, daily exercise, relaxing in the evening and having a calming bedroom environment, can all help your child get a better night’s sleep.
  • Try to get your child to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning – even on a weekend. A consistent sleep-wake cycle is really important for them to function well. Know the signs of sleep deprivation and work with your child to find a routine that works for them.

 

 

 Relaxation

 

Three things to know:

 

  • An important part of teenage life should be relaxation. It is an essential part of maintaining health and wellbeing and being able to calmly deal with stress and pressure which, as we know, can be quite intense during the school years and especially in adolescence.
  • Research shows that young people face many different kinds of stress, worry, and anxiety, and can feel overwhelmed for various reasons. Relaxation has been defined as a ‘state of being free from tension and anxiety’. We often forget to switch off as adults but it is important that we do that in order to help children learn important skills.
  • Many studies highlight the benefits of relaxation and here are a few:
  • Slows the heart and breathing rate
  • Improves concentration and mood
  • Reduces anger and frustration
  • Reduces the activity of stress hormones
  • Improves digestion
  • Increases blood flow to the muscles
  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Improves sleep quality

 

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • One of the simplest relaxation techniques is to practise breathing. Teach your child to take deep, slow breaths when they are feeling anxious. Just a few deep breaths can provide an instant calming effect that can helpreduce stress. Look out for mindfulness apps or video resources on YouTube that offer examples of breathing exercises, such as Headspace or Calm.
  • Learning to relax is something that you can do together as a family. Try having a go at yoga or a relaxing activity together. Yoga will improve flexibility and posture and will give you and your child a sense of inner calm. Encourage your child to go to a local class or follow a simple yoga session on YouTube. Other helpful things could be having quiet time to read, going for a walk, listening to music or watching a feel-good film.
  • Another technique for your child to try is ‘imagery’ – having a vision about a happy place so their brains can take a break. Ask them to write down a description of their happy place which includes looks, feels, smells and sounds. When they are stressed out, ask them to close their eyes and to think about it. Just like new skills, relaxation techniques require practice so keep prompting them to find out what works for them.

 

 

 

Hobbies & Opportunities

 

Three things to know:

 

  • hobbycan make a teenager feel happier in a variety of ways. Hobbies allow them to learn new skills, meet new people and discover new passions. They can enrich your child’s life and increase physical and social interactions. Hobbies can also prevent teenagers from feeling bored  and can keep them entertained.
  • Research indicates that most children try five hobbies before they find what they like. Studies also show that children who engage with hobbies are more sociable, don’t get bored as easily and are supported to have good mental health.
  • Teenagers need free time to explore their own interests, unwind, build relationships and have fun. Research shows that young people thrive on connections they develop, which demonstrates how valuable hobbies are.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

 

  • There are many different hobbies for your child to choose from including sports, music, arts, building, computers, reading, photography, pet care and more. Encourage your child to take part in individual or group hobbies to enrich their lives and explore their interests.
  • Talk to your child about what they are interested in and what hobbies they would like to try. Carry out some research in your local area and community to see what they could get involved in. You could also take part in a new hobby together or they could get some friends involved too.
  • Explain to your child the importance of hobbies to help them be proactive and to take action. Reinforce the importance of hobbies, such as to build confidence, learn new skills, help to choose a career, meet new people, disconnect from technology and discover new interests.

 

 

 

 Mental health  

 

Three things to know:

 

  • Research states that mental health issues affect about one in ten children. The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows young people to develop resilience, cope with the ups and downs in life and grow into healthy adults.
  • Surveys suggest that most young people are mentally healthy but more children are having problems due to life changes, traumatic events, feeling vulnerable or not coping with difficult situations. The Guardian has recently reported that tens of thousands of young people in Britain are struggling with their mental health and are seeking help online for problems.
  • Research indicates that common mental health problems for young people include depression, self-harm, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and panic attacks. Poor mental health in childhood affects educational attainment, increases the likelihood of smoking, alcohol and drug use, and has consequences for poorer physical health in later life.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

 

  • Take time to do some research about mental health issues and symptoms with young people. Point your child towards websites or helplines that can give them information as well. Here are some useful websites to get you started:
  • mind.org.uk
  • youngminds.org.uk

Seek further advice from a professional if you are worried or concerned about your child.

 

  • Talk to your child about any worries they have. Be supportive and show empathy and understanding. Try to avoid persistent questioning but encourage them to open up to you and reassure them that you are there to help them. Try to make your child feel loved, trusted and safe.
  • Don’t blame yourself for any problems your child is having as this will not help the situation. Be honest and explain that you are worried and help them access the right kind of help. Encourage your child to take up healthy habits to help them to maintain a positive state of mental health. Examples are:

 

  • Healthy eating
  • Good sleep routine
  • Seeing friends and connecting with others
  • Taking time out to relax
  • Exercising
  • Doing hobbies
  • Having time outdoors

 

 

Transition into secondary school

 

Three things to know:

 

  • The move to secondary school brings lots of change, such as different classrooms, different teachers for each subject, bigger buildings, new travel arrangements, unfamiliar environments and mixing with new pupils. Studies suggest that if pupils aren’t supported properly, transition can lead to an increased risk of poorer attendance, lower grades, school disengagement, reduced confidence and self-esteem, and increased symptoms of anxiety. Mentally healthy schools. 2018 (mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk)

 

Research suggests that pupils’ concerns about transition to secondary school generally involve issues such as:

  • Losing old friends.
  • The size of their new school and getting lost.
  • Rules, discipline and detention.
  • Finding their way around.

 

  • Research highlights that children who kept the same best friend during the transition period between primary to secondary school tend to do better. Supporting and encouraging friendships during the transition period and beyond may help pupils to improve attainment and behaviour.
  • Research shows that the transition to secondary school can potentially be as difficult for parentsas it is for their children.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3:

 

  • New experiences coupled with your feelings about leaving your child in a new place can be a stressful time in a family’s life. It is normal and acceptable to feel anxious as a parent/carer, but it is important not to pass these feelings on to your child. Support your child and encourage them to keep in touch with their group of friends.
  • Talk about up and coming change with your child and approach transitions in a positive and exciting way. Help your child express their feelings, worries and emotions about the change and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Have a look at and discuss the video from Young Minds on YouTube with your son or daughter. It reassures children that they’re not alone when it comes to their worries about secondary school, that there are ways to cope with change and there are people to talk to when things get difficult: https://youtu.be/xT6ctrk3pVQ

 

 

 

 

 

Handling the pressure of external exams

 

 

Three things to know:

  • Survey research has identified that exams are a significant source of stress and worry for pupils in secondary school. In particular, failing important examinations, and the consequences of failing these examinations, are rated as more important than a range of other personal and social worries. (Optimus education)
  • The NHS highlights that children and young people who experience stress may:
  • worry a lot
  • feel tense
  • get lots of headaches and stomach pains
  • not sleep well
  • be irritable
  • lose interest in food, or eat more than normal
  • not enjoy activities they previously enjoyed
  • seem negative and low in their mood
  • seem hopeless about the future

Exam stress can be really challenging, not only for children but for those that live with them. Research shows that having someone to talk to about their work can help. Support from a parent, teacher or friend can help young people share their worries and keep things in perspective.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • Watch out for signs of stress and encourage your child to talk to a member of school staff or someone whom they feel is supportive. If you feel your child isn't coping, it may also be helpful for you to talk to their teachers at school.
  • Encourage and support your child to build and maintain healthy habits before and during the exam period, such as eating a healthy balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, doing exercise, and having time to relax and to socialise with friends.
  • Remind your child that feeling nervous and anxious is normal. Support them to be organised, have a routine and build a revision timetable. Try not to add to their pressure by being flexible with them. Talk to them about how they feel, remind them of their goals in life and motivate them to stay focused. Staying calm will help them remain calm - and exams don’t last forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping your child develop good habits

 

Three things to know:

 

  • Healthy habits are essential to living a long and happy life, and they are important to instil in children from a young age. If you help them form these habits now, you will be giving them the tools to navigate any obstacles they may face as they grow into adulthood.
  • Research highlights that the late teenage years have been identified as the peak age for exposure to health risks with lifelong implications. The report, by the Association for Young People's Health (AYPH), revealed teenagers eat eight times the recommended sugar allowance and almost half have tooth decay. This worrying research also found out that most smokers start by the age of 25.
  • Research reveals that there is a strong link between healthy habits and pupil achievement. Poor health habits add up to poor grades, and research suggests that healthy habits and good health-related decisions can lead to improved academic performance. For instance, research has shown that students who eat breakfast exhibit improved concentration when compared to their peers who skip it.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • Cultivate healthy habits by being a role model to your child. Try to exhibit good habits, offer health advice and build enjoyable healthy activities into your family life. Examples include being active as a family, having evening and sleep routines, providing a water bottle to encourage hydration, or making family meals together.
  • Good nutrition can help improve concentration, so pay attention to the food you buy for your family. Provide a healthy balanced diet of meals which include fresh vegetables, fruit, proteins, good fats and whole grains. Encourage your child to snack on low sugar foods and drinks, which you could make together.
  • Help and encourage your child to get enough sleep, live a physically active life and feel good about themselves. Work with them to map out their week to include healthy habits such as exercise, relaxation and seeing friends. Set some healthy lifestyle goals together, and keep each other motivated to stay on track.

 

 

Building resilience 

 

Three things to know:

 

 

  • Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity, ‘bounce back’ during difficult times and get back to feeling good. It is about having the capacity to adapt to difficult circumstances, and using tools and resources available to them to do so.
  • The Institute of Health Equity suggests that resilient individuals, families and communities are more able to deal with difficulties and adversities than those with less resilience. Building resilience is fundamental to teenagers becoming happy and functioning adults. Young people who are not resilient will be more likely to respond to stress by developing anxiety and depression.
  • Evidence suggests that promoting resilience can help young people sustain good relationships, develop personal life skills, overcome challenges, cope in difficult situations and achieve their potential. Human brains develop and change more during the teenage years than at most other times in their life. This means that this is a time when there is huge potential for the development of new skills and capabilities.

 

 

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • Help your child navigate their ups and downs by encouraging them to carry out resilient behaviours. You can be a building block in helping them build healthy habits, such as looking after their mental health, getting enough sleep, doing exercise, eating healthy food, doing hobbies, socialising or relaxing. Watch the video on YouTube to understand why resilience is important to young people’s health: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wocj5oTReU

 

  • Staying connected with different people in our lives is the basis for building resilience. Help your child to understand who is in their support network when they face difficult situations. This may be a grandparent, friend, teacher, sibling or sports coach etc. Encourage your child to make time to build relationships, see friends, have fun, take part in hobbies and connect with others regularly.
  • Encourage your child to build resilience by taking on new opportunities, challenges and to achieve goals by stepping out of their comfort zone. This will help them to develop self-respect, be organised, promote positive thinking and to build confidence to deal with different situations.

 

 

Screen time

 

 

Three things to know:

 

  • Battles over screen time and devices have become a depressing part of family life. Recent research has revealed that it’s not so much the length, but the nature of the screen time that matters. What is important is that whatever young people are watching, playing and reading is high-quality, age-appropriate and safe.
  • The University of Oxford examined 120,000 UK 15-year-olds in 2017 and found that among those teenagers who were the lightest tech-users, it was found that increasing the time spent using technology was linked to improved wellbeing - possibly because it was important for keeping up friendships. In contrast, among the heaviest users of technology, any increase in time was linked to lower levels of wellbeing.
  • Further research has shown that more than two hours of smartphone use on a weekday, and more than four hours on a weekend day, was linked to lower wellbeing. Several other studies suggest that higher levels of screen use in children and adolescents is associated with reduced physical activity, increased risk of depression, and lower wellbeing.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 or 4:

 

  • The British Psychological Society recommends that parents and carers use technology alongside children and engage them in discussions about media use. Help your child get into a screen-free bedtime routine. Screen time in the evening is especially bad for sleep patterns.
  • Set limits like no screens during meal times or no screens after a certain time. Suggest having one day a week with no screen time like Screen-Free Sundays. If they have a smartphone, encourage them to turn off as many notifications as possible and to turn on flight mode when they’re with friends and family.
  • Encourage your child to do new physical activities instead of screen-based inactivity. This could be new hobbies, going for a walk, playing sport, being creative or joining a youth group. Role-model good behaviour by being mindful of your own screen time.

 

 

 

Work experience to prepare for their future

 

 

Three things to know:

 

 

  • Employers are really keen on work experience and what it gives young people – such as the confidence and skills to succeed in a workplace and become ‘workplace-ready’. Work experience stands young people in good stead for getting hired. A prospective employer will always look favourably on the effort taken by those who have done work experience, which empowers new talent and gives them an edge to push for the most sought-after graduate positions.
  • A recent survey (UCAS) showed two thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness.
  • As well as the many benefits that work experience provides, such as giving young people skills, fostering teamwork, developing communication and providing commercial awareness, experience allows them to stand out to potential employers and helps them choose the right sector to work in.

 

 

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 4:

 

  • Work experience isn’t just about ‘workplace’ settings but is a lot broader. All kinds of activities can help your child gain experience, so do encourage them to do an apprenticeship, volunteer, fundraise, complete Duke of Edinburgh, take on a part-time job or be an entrepreneur. Help your child apply for placements and get them to start building a CV.
  • Encourage your child to differentiate themselves and to make themselves more employable. Help them to find work experience placements or new opportunities to try out - which will impress employers and improve their personal development. Try looking on websites with your child, such as targetcareers.co.uk and gothinkbig.co.uk/opportunities. Suggest to your child that they could also speak to a careers adviser through school to help them find the right experience for them.
  • Help your child understand what they are passionate about and the different job roles they would like to experience. Start by looking at local companies or charities or by contacting family friends to see if they can help out. Watch the video with your child to help inspire them to find the right experience for them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=102&v=o2F4bZX2yUg

  

 

Positive relationships and social connections

 

Three things to know:

 

  • During adolescence, young people learn how to form safe and healthy relationships with friends, parents, teachers, and romantic partners. Research has identified that teenage relationship abuse is associated with a range of adverse outcomes for young people, including mental health, depression and suicide.
  • Research shows that positive social connections with people at all stages in life helps ensure healthy development, physically, socially, and emotionally. As children transition to adolescence and start to spend less time with parents and siblings, friendships with peers become an increasingly important source of these social connections. Strong relationships and positive friendships can help encourage healthy habits.
  • Studies have shown that developing and maintaining a positive and strong parent-adolescent relationship has real consequences. Positive parent-child relationships are associated with higher levels of adolescent self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction, and lower levels of emotional and physical distress.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 & 4:

 

  • Help provide opportunities for your child to develop social skills through building relationships with others in different settings. This could be by encouraging them to see their friends, join a youth group, and take part in hobbies with others or local sports. Social connections and experiences can help your child discover who they are, improve their happiness and develop coping skills.
  • Talk to your child about different kinds of relationships, resolving conflicts, maintaining friendships and what healthy, positive relationships consist of such as:

 - Mutual respect

 - Being yourself

- Trusting each other

- Having different opinions and knowing that is fine

-Not feeling pressured into doing things they don’t want to do

 

Have a look at the Relate website for all kinds of relationship advice to help you support your child in the best possible way: www.relate.org.uk

 

  • Your relationship with your child is equally, if not more, important than any other as it will last well into adulthood. Some degree of conflict is normal but your child will still rely on you for emotional support, to set boundaries and to be a role model. Make sure you spend quality time with your child, have fun and laugh with them, talk to them, encourage them and be there if they need help.

 

 

Self-care for teenagers

 

 

Three things to know:

 

  • Self-care is anything you enjoy doing that helps make you happy and maintains your physical, mental or emotional health. Self-care helps parents and teens deal with life’s everyday pressures in a more positive and rewarding way. Recent research has revealed that teaching teenagers how to balance their own needs now will help them in the future, while reducing some of the strain on their lives right now. Self-care can lead to healthier, happier, more adjusted young people.
  • Studies have demonstrated that when parents practise self-care, it’s been shown that teens are encouraged to do the same, and they take this positive habit into later life. So, your self-care helps teach your child how to look after themselves better.
  • Research shows that we need to build self-care habits from an early age so that when your child hits difficulties and roadblocks, they are able to navigate them skilfully and stay strong and steady. Self-care for teenagers is crucial with all the hormone changes, mood swings, struggles with self-image, self-esteem and building independence.

 

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3 & 4:

 

 

  • Helping your child learn self-care can help them get through tough times such as exams, challenges or adversities. Suggest ideas to them about how to take care of their physical health and mental health and how to be creative. Ideas include exercising, walking, having a manicure, going for a haircut, seeing friends, having a bath, reading books, listening to podcasts or drawing.
  • Self-care works best as a routine to help your child feel energised and deal with pressures well. Talk to your child about the importance of doing things they enjoy and that make them feel happy. Bounce ideas with them, put them in the calendar and support them with doing them.
  • Encourage your child to make self-care a priority, remind them about it every so often and help them with what you can do together. Doing self-care activities together not only helps your child to cultivate good habits, it also helps your mind and body to be at its best. Ideas don’t need to be time consuming or elaborate, and sometimes they might be indulgent! Get started by cooking healthy meals together, doing hobbies, taking pride in each other’s appearance, having fun, getting outdoors, volunteering, or by watching a feel-good film.

 

  

How to help develop reading and vocabulary

 

Three things to know:

  • Research shows that reading for pleasure has the most impact on the frequency at which young people read, their educational achievement and their personal development.
  • Renaissance Learning’s report for 2018 showed that in primary school, children are generally reading books that are of a level exceeding their age and ability. Unfortunately, this changes at secondary school; children in Year 7 generally read books which are levelled at a year below their age and this gap either plateaus or continues to widen throughout the remainder of their time at secondary school.
  • Research has shown that, as they grow older, children find reading less enjoyable and they also read less frequently. We also know from research that, in general, boys enjoy reading less than girls.

Three  things to do if your child is at Key Stage 3:

  • Encourage your child to find texts they enjoy; choice and interest in reading is key. Spend some time at the library or a local book store and ask someone who works there to give suggestions based on your child’s interests, films or books they’ve enjoyed, or any new and popular books other children have enjoyed. Some research has shown that children who have books of their own enjoy reading more, but it is often worth ensuring that they’re confident they’ll enjoy the authors/texts they are choosing before investing!
  • Encourage your child to read for 15-30 minutes every day. This doesn’t have to be novels; it could be short stories or even non-fiction. If your child is willing, sit with them and read together so that you can discuss and tease out some of the issues that crop up.
  • If your child has shown an interest in a recent issue in the news, or a particular topic at school, look into non-fiction articles or books related to it and help them see how they can follow their own interests and develop their knowledge of different areas they find engaging.

Three things to do if your child is at Key Stage 4:

  • By this age, young people can sometimes be harder to inspire in areas like reading. It can sometimes be worth having a discussion about what your child dislikes, or finds difficult, about reading and being open-minded about their views and trying to discuss ways around these together. It’s fine to have dislikes, but what might they enjoy reading? Where could they make a start?
  • Encourage your child to find texts they enjoy; choice and interest in reading is key. This doesn’t have to be fiction; it could be non-fiction extracts or whole texts too. You may find text ideas together, from your child’s own selection, or seek advice from their teachers at school. Due to the nature of GCSE English Language, you may find that your school library or English department has banks of fiction and non-fiction extracts for your child to explore and get a feel for what may interest them before widening your search to whole texts.
  • Consider, with your child, what subjects or topics they are particularly enjoying and seek out fiction and/or non-fiction linked to those. For example, some young people who like science enjoy biographies of well-known scientists from across the ages, those interested in history have a whole wealth of fiction and non-fiction available to them in their chosen areas of interest and those who enjoy maths may find books about topics like Alan Turing’s Enigma machine of interest.

 

 

Social Media: what do we know and what should we do?

 

Three things to know:

  • Research shows that high use of social media is linked to poor mental health. One recent study shows that young adults who used social media heavily were three times more likely to be depressed than occasional users. Another study discovered that young people who exceeded two hours of social media use per day were more likely to claim that their mental health was ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ than occasional users.
  • Sleep is crucial for productive engagement and well-being. Research has shown that social media and screen time in general is linked to lower quality of sleep.
  • Each social media site is able to decide how it protects their users; there is no agreed set of child safety rules to protect young people from the risks. Each site will have its own age ratings – for example Whatsapp has recently set its minimum age to 16 years old. Even YouTube has a minimum age requirement, which is 18, but from 13 years old a child can sign up as long as they have a guardian’s permission.

Three things to do:

  • Talk to your child about the positives and negatives of social media. Most young people are very aware of these and know that there are changes they could make to use the internet in general in a healthier way. Being upfront about our own habits (even any unhealthy ones!) and setting goals together can sometimes help to avoid making it a source of conflict. One key aspect of this is discussing how social media can affect our reputation through the digital footprint we create for anyone to access.
  • Encourage screen-free time before bed. If possible, having a family-wide screen-free curfew could help model good use of screens and place value on everyone caring for their wellbeing through winding down activities and better quality of sleep.
  • Help your child to spend more time on activities they enjoy and which make them feel good. Perhaps encourage them to re-join a sports team they used to like, take up a hobby that they’ve expressed an interest in, or spend time as a family doing things together: family movie time using films your child has recommended, trips out etc.

 

 

 

Encouraging independence

Three things to know:

  • Developing independence has many benefits: increased academic success, increased motivation and confidence and improved awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to manage these.
  • Independent learning isn’t about working alone. Teachers and parents still need to support and enable the learning that is needed in this time so that it is structured, productive and effective. We can’t expect children to just ‘know’ how to work independently as well as effectively; they will need some guidance and support.
  • Independent learning is most effective when students can be encouraged to self-regulate their own learning and behaviour.

Three things to do:

  • Discuss your child’s areas of strength and weakness, across the subject range they are studying, but also within each subject and topic. Independence isn’t just about working – it’s about reflecting on their progress and performance and considering where their time would be best spent.
  • Discuss the different ways your child could study, whether through booklets or textbooks, apps and other options. There are many ways to revise and most students have a preference, but often a combination is the most effective. The PiXL apps we have available, such as the Maths app, can dovetail well into a revision schedule, alongside practice questions and revision of topics that they are unsure of.
  • If your child doesn’t have them already, ask their class teachers for the PiXL Independence materials that we have created. These are available for most subjects and provide a variety of different tasks, along with a credit system, to help structure their revision whilst also developing their independence.

 

 

 

How to encourage productive learning

Three things to know:

  • Having a tidy space can reduce stress and improve productivity. Another way to maximise opportunities for work and reduce distractions is to ensure the space is organised with everything needed for studying: laptop, books, pens and any other equipment. If you want to go a step further, plants are shown to not only create a calm space but also aid concentration.
  • Many people find approaches like the Pomodoro technique help to increase their levels of productivity as it allows for focused ‘work’ time for 25 minutes, and then a five-minute reward break. It is often surprising how much we can actually achieve in short bursts of time when we are fully focused, with no distractions, and know that there is a clear end when we’ll get to do something we want.
  • Experts in nutrition stress the importance of healthy diets for ensuring the most effective working of our brains. For example, although caffeine and sugar can provide bursts of energy, consuming these can lead to significant dips in focus and energy. We also know that easy swaps can lead to more balanced nutrition and energy levels, like using wholegrains, nuts and berries.

Three things to do:

  • Help your child to create a productive learning environment, a quiet space where they can work at a clear surface with as few distractions as possible. Encourage this to be a social media-free space.
  • Sit down with your child and offer to help them create a timetable of study. Work with them to map out the free time they could use to study and the free time that should be ‘work-free’ so they can do things they enjoy. Plan out the subjects and units they know they need to work on and schedule these into their ‘work’ slots. If your child is receptive to doing this together, it can help them to see that they aren’t expected to use all of their ‘free’ time to study, and that taking breaks and investing time in their hobbies and friends is important and valuable for them and their wellbeing.
  • If possible, when your child is studying, bring them some snacks and a drink to help sustain them. Encourage your child to either prepare, by themselves or with you, recipes from our Power to Perform recipe cards to ensure that they are eating brain-boosting foods. These recipes have been designed by an expert in the field to ensure that your child has brain-boosting foods and drink at their finger-tips.

 

 

How to support re-visiting of learning

Three things to know:

  • Remembering information is the first step for students in mastering higher level skills. For students to be able to explain, analyse, evaluate and create, they need to have a firm knowledge of the information and terms involved first.
  • Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve aims to show us how information can be lost from our memories over time when we don’t strive to retain it. This forgetting curve suggests that we will halve our memory of new information in just days, unless we revisit learning to gradually move it into our long-term memory.
  • The more frequently that information is revisited and used, the more likely it is to move into longer term memories. Research shows that revisiting learning frequently is more effective than mass-revision. Unfortunately, many students report that they don’t feel like it’s working and they prefer larger and rarer chunks. Knowing this is useful for us, and the young people we care about, so we can talk about it and address this issue, even showing them typical forgetting curves and sharing examples of these.

Three things to do:

  • As early as possible, encourage your child to make notes of the key information for topics they are studying. They may highlight these in a book/on a sheet, write them down onto flash cards, create a mindmap or any other way that they wish. Colour-coding these can be a helpful tool in aiding revisiting as students can identify in green what they are confident with, orange what they are unsure they would remember long term, and code in red that information they didn’t know until they wrote it down or don’t fully understand and may need to explore further.
  • Encourage revisiting of topics frequently, using a home-learning schedule. Discuss with your child the need to revisit learning as they progress through units, move onto next ones and come to the end of a term or year. Revision shouldn’t be revising all the knowledge from the entire year; we should aim to revisit learning frequently to embed into our long-term memories and then revise the higher skills using this knowledge as we go further into the course.
  • Encourage your child to find ways to address ‘red’ areas and weaknesses. This doesn’t necessarily need to be seeking a teacher’s help – it might be reading about it in a textbook, online or practising a particular skill. They may wish to use some of the resources PiXL has created as part of our Independence package to help them to consider areas of weakness and different ways they can address this.

 

 

 

 

 

PiXL apps: what are they and how can we use them?

Three things to know:

  • PiXL Maths app – All PiXL schools have access to our popular Maths app. The Maths app is a great platform for students to develop their skills and knowledge in an interactive and personalised way. All PiXL schools also have access to our Times Table app, if they wish to work on this area to consolidate the basics.
  • Other PiXL apps – Some PiXL schools have purchased access to our Literature, Geography and History apps. The Lit app allows users to choose from a wide range of texts to revise and develop their detailed knowledge across several differently- levelled activity sections. The Geography and History apps cover a wide variety of KS4 units for students to engage with and ensure a sound grasp of key concepts and information.
  • PiXL Unlock – some schools have become users of our new Unlock package. If your school is one of them, your child can use this to help them revise key vocabulary for their subjects. The app is going to continue to grow over the next few months so remind your child to update this frequently to get the most recent content and developments.

Three things to do:

  • Discuss with your child which platform would be least distracting for them. The app content is not only available on phones and tablets, but also on desktops and laptops. Your child may feel a desktop would be least distracting for them so they can leave their phone in another room to avoid notifications pinging through, or they may already be organised and have a system on their phone that lets them shut down notifications when they want to focus on one thing. Letting your child choose the platform best for them can help them to feel that they have ownership and your trust.
  • Encourage your child to use the apps to fill small gaps of time, such as when they’re waiting for the bus, when you’re finishing off dinner or any other small pockets of time they have.
  • Remind your child to update any of their apps frequently so that they are using the most recent version for the best service possible.