Sometimes fact sheets come home as part of a maths or a science homework, and other times a whole set of facts needs to be learnt for a test or an end of year exam. But children don’t really know how to learn a sheet – let alone a file or exercise book packed with information. So here is how you help them…

Learning has to be active

Children think that just reading the facts through will be enough, but it will not. As they read, they should write down a set of questions that they have made up themselves that can be answered with the key facts on the page.

You can write these questions down for them to ease the process at the kitchen table. But they do need to set the questions independently.

If the questions are answered aloud, or on a different sheet of paper, they can be used again and again over the evening, days or weeks of the learning process.

At this point, when all questions can be answered easily, you know that the information has gone in.

Maths revision has to be practical too

There are 3 types of maths revision

1. Basic mental calculations.

These, including tables, calculating change, multiplying and dividing by 10 and 100 etc need to be learnt with repeated goes of a speedy on-screen game. Just google what you are looking for and a whole host of apps and free online games come up. Some are wearily slow but many are brilliant. This learning is best done for 5 minutes per night in a more longterm fashion.

2. Special numbers, familiar fractions and little fact sheets

Pick one type of these – perhaps square numbers to start – and stick them on the fridge. That is it. After a week of them being part of the furniture (and the odd reference to them as you all walk past) they will have gone in by osmosis and you can replace that set for the next one. It has to be just one set though. If you offer more, the fun and familiarity elements will be lost.

3. Tricky calculations and exam questions

These have to be done through practice of new, unseen questions. Re-write those from their maths book at the most basic level. But ideally you will have been given a text book by the school, or you can buy online the exact reference book they need. For older children you must have the name of the exam board so that you can get the revision guide exactly right. For CE you will have old papers (buy them online – just tap ISEB Papers into google) and the same for 11+.

Don’t use MyMaths online questions for revision. They just don’t go far enough, discourage the use of on-paper calculations and are more useful for homeworks than exam prep.

Learning diagrams and labels

Tippex is a wonderful thing. Just photocopy the diagram and Tippex out the labels on your photocopy (not their precious book!). You can print up as many blank photocopies as they need and then the learning becomes active as they write the labels in the right places.

Block revision for a big set of exams

For this, your child will need a workable timetable. Using the methods above in manageable chunks. Click on this link for support:

How do you actually write a revision timetable?