How long should each study session be?

Planning a schedule that is packed to the brim with revision may not always be the most productive. You may think that by setting aside a large portion of time for revision every day, your child will automatically do well. Unfortunately, the law of diminishing returns can set in quickly which can increase anxiety and fatigue. 

Instead of studying hard, why not study smart?

Instead of pushing your child’s brain to run a marathon, consider strengthening it with short sprints and recovery time. 

Here, we would like to introduce the Pomodoro technique as a way to pace and manage learning. It reduces anxiety, enhances focus and boosts motivation. In fact, it helps learners become more aware of their decisions and strengthens their determination in the face of complex situations. 

Essentially, the pomodoro technique involves breaking up larger, more complex tasks into smaller, actionable tasks which can be completed in 30 minute blocks (25 mins of work + 5 mins break). You’d need a timer (which is the inspiration for the name of this technique – a “pomodoro” is italian for tomato.)

All your child needs is to:

Prepare a to-do list and identify a task

Set the timer for 25 minutes

Focus until the timer rings

Take a 5 minute break

That’s one pomodoro. 

Your child can set more than one pomodoro per day and if they intend to take more than four pomodoros (2 hours), they can have a treat by taking a longer 15- 30 minute break.

 

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Why this method works

The Pomodoro method has been known to be simple yet effective because the act of breaking down a complex task into manageable ones can be motivating for some children.  It encourages them to take small yet concrete action instead of procrastinating. The timer also serves as a useful tool to help them stay on track before giving their minds a much needed break.  

If you’d like to find out more, do read ‘ The pomodoro technique’ (Cirillo, 2006) for more in-depth tips on how to execute this method.

If you are an educator, you may be interested in this interesting piece “Zooming Inquiry: Online teaching with the Pomodoro technique” (Swan, Danner, Hawkins, Grand & Lee, 2020) on using the Pomodoro Technique for online lessons to reduce Zoom fatigue.

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Cirillo, F. (2006). The pomodoro technique (the pomodoro). Agile Processes in Software Engineering and, 54(2), 35.

Gobbo, F., & Vaccari, M. (2008, June). The pomodoro technique for sustainable pace in extreme programming teams. In International Conference on Agile Processes and Extreme Programming in Software Engineering (pp. 180-184). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Swan, K., Danner, A., Hawkins, M., Grant, S. G., & Lee, J. (2020). Zooming Inquiry: Online Teaching with the Pomodoro Technique. Social Education, 84(4), 229-235.

Wang, X., Gobbo, F., & Lane, M. (2010). Turning time from enemy into an ally using the Pomodoro technique. In Agility Across Time and Space (pp. 149-166). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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