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The Art of Interleaving and How it Benefits your child

Author | August 25, 2021

The weeks leading up to an exam can be chaotic. Innumerable textbooks, stacks of practice papers, and multi-coloured post-its to label important sections crowd your table. As a parent, it falls upon you to spin a schedule that will encompass every subject with adequate practice sessions. Feeling the pressure, yet? It’s natural. But while you’re at it, we’ll give you a little tip that will go a long way.

Interleave subjects! This may sound foreign at first but interleaving of subjects is one of the most effective ways to get your child organized for an exam. Interleaving abandons the former practice of spending hours on one topic or chapter and finishing it in its entirety. In fact, interleaving lets you switch it up a bit! This method can be applied to different subjects, topics within a chapter, or even different types of questions.  We’ll substantiate this with an example. When your child takes his history textbook in hand, you can suggest that they study the history of different countries instead of focusing on one country at a time. In doing so, he can draw parallels between their history. This will help your child to thoroughly understand multiple topics simultaneously. They are then able to form well-rounded arguments on a particular topic. In fact, this strategy works well even outside the academic sphere like in the case of learning to play an instrument or a sport.  

There are several reasons why interleaving is a preferred antithesis to block learning. Think of the adage two birds, one stone. Interleaving lets your child’s performance improve on two tasks rather than one if they practiced it separately. This also lets them use their time more efficiently. Interleaving questions is also proven to be more effective than attempting a practice set that has one type of question format. As parents, you will have to understand that your child encounters similar sounding concepts or topics which might lead to confusion. Interleaving topics allows them to take a break and concentrate on different material for a change.

In gaining an in-depth understanding of several topics through interleaving, it becomes easier for your child to point out mistakes in their own work because they are forced to pay attention to the details. This occurs due to an increased interference that stems from the mixed nature of the material to be studied. Over time, you will notice that your child is able to transfer information and draw references across various contexts with ease.  

As a parent, preparing a schedule with adequate interleaved subjects is not quantum science. It all starts with what you want to interleave. For this, consider the nature of the material, why they can be interleaved and if they have a common thread that runs through. While having something in common, the matter or exercise shouldn’t be too similar or else it defeats the purpose. Another aspect to consider is the frequency with which you interleave subjects. Ensure that your child doesn't dedicate too little time to one topic or else they will not be able to learn the minute details.

When it comes to Studi, we embrace this technique wholeheartedly. At the end of every topic, we assign each student with a test that contains different types of questions. It, thus, prepares our students for different levels of difficulty as opposed to block practice where only one type of question is explored. With the help of the Adaptive Planner students are encouraged to switch between two subjects daily. This allows them to notice the differences and conceptual patterns between the subjects. There are several ways in which a learner can benefit using this technique. At the same time, there are several situations where interleaving can be applied. So now parents, all that’s left to do is grab a sheet of paper and a pencil and start scheduling your child’s study timetable!