Having the ability to analyse data and present the findings in a concise and persuasive way can be incredibly useful and will serve your child well in exams and assessments of all kinds. Analytical skills cover a wide range of areas, including communication, creativity, critical thinking, research and the ability to see ‘the bigger picture’ and to spot systematic trends and connections. So, how can your child hone them as exam season approaches?
The importance of reading is well documented; however, your child can get even more out of the process through active reading. In other words, consciously seeking out specific information in what they are reading, rather than scanning the page to look at the words. Looking at a chapter of a book to answer some pre-set comprehension-style questions, for example, will help your child to retain the information and motivate them to read to the end to find out the answers. Use what they have read so you can discuss this shortly after– what they liked or disliked, what they were surprised to learn and what they think might happen next.
Fun with numbers
Step away from the textbook to discover maths in the real world. Depending on the age of your child, you could set them number-related challenges such as working out the area or volume of items around the house. Alternatively, you can give them a budget and ask them to plan the weekly food shop. Can they help you map out a car journey or work out the most fuel-efficient route for your drive to school or work?
Allow plenty of time for your child to enjoy time away from their books. This not only refreshes the brain, but also provides new opportunities for analytical thinking. By finding some enjoyable brain games i.e. riddles or word puzzles, challenging your child to build a model, make up fun experiments and indulge in pretend play, you enable them to discover more about the world on their own. Don’t jump in to help too soon – let them explore and to get it wrong a few times as they work out what to do.
As seen in the active reading tip above, discussing what your child has learned is a great way to foster enthusiasm and cement facts in their mind. Hold informal discussions to fully debate any issues involved, or to talk about what they like and dislike about a story or found easy or hard to understand in their current studies. Make sure everyone keeps an open mind in the discussion and try not to belittle or shut down anyone’s contribution. If you feel someone is wrong, encourage them to explain their point of view to you and then offer your own thoughts in return. You might even learn something from your child in doing so!
Encourage your child to avoid taking everything they see at face value, especially when related to social media. Social Media is a place where anyone can upload posts, memes, videos and messages that can then be read by anyone else, unchecked and unchallenged. If they see a competition, for example, offering prizes beyond their wildest dreams, discuss with them that they may not and the likely motives of the person uploading the offer. Could it be a scam designed to extract their personal data or an advertisement aimed at increasing the audience for a certain person or brand?