• Spend the summer productively: take charge of your learning with Vanessa Thompsett

    For many of us, the last few months have been very strange and often difficult: the spring months have passed us by, and now we’re facing a summer where, despite some lockdown restrictions being lifted, life is still going to be very different from what we’d usually expect. However, every cloud has its silver lining: we can take this time as an opportunity to develop new skills, catch up on disrupted learning and plan for our futures. With some structuring, and perhaps some help from Holland Park Education’s summer courses, you’ll look back on Summer 2020 with pride!

    For primary school students and those preparing for their 11+ exams, the best advice I can give you is: read. Read everything! Books and short stories are best, but magazine and newspaper articles are also good – have a think about what how writers persuade and interest you. Step outside your comfort zone – if you really love fantasy books, try some sci-fi, or even dip a toe into some nineteenth century literature. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Tell Me No Lies by Malorie Blackman, and Skellig by David Almond are all good books to get started with. Practice your maths skills with some mental maths tests, or see how we use maths every day in our homes (particularly in the kitchen!). For more intensive 11+ preparation, why not try one of Holland Park’s revision courses, running every week over July and August?

    For students in the first few years of secondary school, this is a good time to go back over anything you learned this year that you’re not too sure about. If you’re getting chloroplasts mixed up with mitochondria, or you’re having trouble straightening out your graphs, there are plenty of resources available – including, of course, over 2000 Holland Park tutors who would be happy to help! For those who have just finished Year 9, see if you can find out what you’ll be studying at GCSE, and take the time to read up on the topics or watch some relevant videos. Don’t overdo it, though – save some of that brainpower for when you go back to school. This is also a good time to look outside the academic box and learn something new. You could begin playing the ukulele, make your first forays into cosplay or start writing a blog about the thing you’re most passionate about. All of these help you develop dedication, creative thinking and will get you practising all sorts of skills that you can then apply to your schoolwork.

    For students about to enter Year 11, go over what you’ve learned in Year 10, and, if you can, get a head start on the next year. As an English Literature tutor, I can recommend a wealth of productions that have been made available – the National Theatre on YouTube and the Royal Shakespeare Company on BBC iPlayer are just the tip of the iceberg! If you’re starting to think about A-level choices, do some research into the subjects you’re interested in and what they offer at A-level. For students about to enter Year 12 who have already chosen their A-levels, this is also a good time to look more closely at your course modules and know what to expect. The step from GCSE to A-level can be quite big, and you have the time to prepare yourself with reading, watching free talks such as those delivered by TED, or listening to podcasts. Budding scientists might particularly enjoy the BBC podcast The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry.

    I’m writing another blog post specifically for those who would’ve taken their A-levels this year, but my broad advice is the same as to other year groups: keep busy, keep reading, watching and listening. Gently structuring your time and setting small, achievable goals for yourself over the summer can often help if you’re feeling stressed. If your university of choice has sent you a reading list, read the first couple of things on it – don’t do what I did and squeeze Paradise Lost into the five days before uni!

    However you choose to spend your summer, keep it structured. Make a rough timetable for July and August, and stick to it as much as you can. If your goal is to cook your way through the Barbecue Bible by September, work out how to divide up those recipes week by week. If you want to familiarise yourself with the first module in GCSE history, break down the subjects so that every week you’ve learnt something new. This is a great opportunity for you to take charge of your learning, whatever direction you decide to go in. If you need any help or guidance, we at Holland Park Education are always available, from a one-off session to the whole summer.

    Most importantly, don’t forget to make it fun! If you have a garden or patio, take a book out with you and read in the sunshine (don’t forget the suncream). Form an online book club with friends, or sign up for one of the several book clubs we’re running over the summer. Summer is for rest and relaxation, too, so remember to get lots of sleep, eat well and drink lots of water – and keep looking forward to a brighter future.

    About Vanessa: Vanessa Thompsett is one of Holland Park Education’s leading tutors. With a degree in English Literature from UCL, Vanessa has been privately tutoring since 2016. She has exceptional results teaching English and Maths for 7+ through A Level and has helped students secure places at schools such as City of London School, Highgate, Godolphin & Latymer, and universities including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL.

    Contact the team at Holland Park Education at +44 207 034 0800, or email enquiries@hollandparkeducation.com for more information on how we can create a systematic plan for the summer for your student!

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