Start of the 2nd half of Winter Term

Ok. Back to school. The prospect of mock exams is becoming ever more real, and we know that – left to her own devices – Em isn’t just going to get on with revising. So now the Study Buddy board is in full swing.

This is a bit of a long post to cover setting up and the first review.

We set the board up properly on Monday night. It seemed like the right thing to do from a timing point of view. After all, all good intentions are more powerful on a Monday, right?

The first thing was to go through the sets for each subject. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t counting topics that hadn’t been covered in school yet. That done, we made some units for activities that were going to be repeated but moveable. Emily plays the violin and just started the cello so lessons and practice time for both of those.

There was a definite worry that it might be dealing with minutiae but, in actual fact, it worked really well to have a proper, full plan. Em got quite into it.

When it comes to planning ahead for studying, I try to look at things in three blocks.

  • First the non-discretionaries – what has to be done? School is the obvious one. It could also include sports activities, music lessons, part time jobs etc. For Em it’s just school and violin/cello lesson. All of this is blocked out first.
  • Second the optionals – what social, personal or desirable things need to be accounted for? Typically we start with weekend lie-ins! It’s the stuff that they want to do. So if there’s a party coming up, or maybe cinema trip, dinner out. That kind of thing. Em wanted to make sure that this included a buffer after school for downtime. We aslo had fireworks planned
  • Finally study time! The blank spaces are then open for revision. It’s not a challenge to fill in all the gaps! Work with what’s sensible.

Part of the battle here is about helping Em get into the right mindset. We don’t want to overload from the outset. So we planned on Monday and revision started on Tuesday. We started out with one unit each day because she thought that, with homework, it would be too much. I wasn’t so sure, but why not try her way first and build up?


So, Sunday night we did the Weekly Plan And Review. It felt a bit artificial to be truthful. I think that might be because she was so used to seeing me do it with Jake. But in no time at all it was fine. We talked first about how the first week had been. “Fine” was the response. Highly illuminating! I was keen to find out if one unit an evening was stretching and it wasn’t. So we could agree to try two units and compare next week.

We then went through each unit with a really simple “how did it go?”. Most of the units went into a newly created “done” section on the buddy board. One or two – carbohydrates in Food Prep and Cell transport in Biology needed a bit more time, so we put those back in the backlog pile.

I’d notice that at the weekend, Em had originally planned three units a day; an hour between them starting at 11am. But on Saturday at 1pm she was making herself some pasta. So a bit of a learning there – weekend lunch is 1-2, so schedule around it. That’s one of the important parts of this weekly get together. Really we’re learning about her learning!

This week’s board (w/c 8 November 2021)

So, we amended the ‘optionals’ (keeping the lie-ins!) adding a hairdressers appointment. Then planned the week ahead. It was a good selection of everything. Making sure that no subjects we missed – business studies in this case! We also put in some time for Em to talk me through her Food & Nutrition project (NEA). I’m hoping that will help her to look more objectively at what she’s doing.

I think it went really well and levels of engagement with the process were high. Especially pleasing after a bit of a hesitant start!

That done, she could go back to CSI something or another and me; head back for my wine!

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