Have you ever wondered how you can help your child study efficiently?
Your child is not alone if they struggle to complete their homework before the due date or if they wish they had more time to revise before exams. It is understandable that so many students struggle to manage their time for their studies in the busy world of today.
Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in 1999. This technique was named after the Italian word for tomato as the kitchen timer he used was shaped as a tomato.
It has been used by thousands of students to organise their study time. In order to encourage prolonged attention and prevent mental tiredness, this well-known time management technique requires your child to alternate spurts of focused work with frequent brief breaks. All you need is a kitchen timer. There are also many different Pomodoro timer applications available out there for you and your child to try. It sounds simple, but it really does work. So much so that millions of people around the globe swear by this technique.
How does it work?
Step 1: Pick a task
Sit down with your child and come up with a to-do list ahead of time. Help them think about what they would like to achieve and estimate how long they would like to study for. It is a good practice to break down each task into smaller, actionable steps. For instance, instead of writing ‘study English for 1 hour’, they could come up with a more specific task such as ‘practise Active and Passive (Synthesis) rules for 1 hour’. After which, break their work into pomodoros – focused work sessions.
Step 2: Set a 25-minute timer
While a mechanical timer (like Francesco Cirillo’s tomato-shaped kitchen timer) is suggested, any timer would do. In fact, using an application specifically designed for this Pomodoro Technique would reduce the hassle of setting a timer manually. With your chosen timer, set your timer for 25 minutes and start studying.
Step 3: Get to work
Minimise your child’s distractions during this period. That means no checking of phones and no television playing in the background. Ensure that your child is focused on a single task until the timer rings. This block of focused work is called a Pomodoro.
Cirillo began by setting the timer for 10 minutes and attempting to focus just on his task during that time until the alarm went off. After some testing and adjustments, he found that 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break was a perfect balance. The 25-minute interval is long enough to remain focused and make genuine progress without feeling exhausted, while the 5-minute break is just enough for your child to glance at their phone without it being distracting.
Stop when time is up and record your child’s progress. If your child completes their task before time is up, they could use the remaining time to review what they have learned or organise and prepare their study materials for the next Pomodoro.
Step 4: Take a 5-minute break
Although your child can be highly productive when they are completely focused on a single task at hand, this can start to feel mentally taxing. Hence, these 5-minute breaks are crucial especially when studying at this intensity. Your child may take this time to get up, get a drink or a snack, anything to get your mind off the task. This ensures that they are ready for the next pomodoro.
Step 5: Repeat the process 3 more times
Once their break is over, repeat steps 2 and 3 three more times. Take a longer break of about 20 to 30 minutes every 4 Pomodoros, depending on how your child feels. They may spend this time having a meal, relaxing, or going for a quick walk.
You and your child would be surprised to see how productive they have been!
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