Tuesday 16 January 2018

Important texts to study if cramming for Leaving Cert

Worried about mobile phones interfering with your child's studies? One parent found a solution

EXAMS: Frank McNamara was inspired to invent a mobile phone service to help Leaving Cert students after sending study aids via text to twin sons Frankie and Quincy. Photo: Tony Gavin
EXAMS: Frank McNamara was inspired to invent a mobile phone service to help Leaving Cert students after sending study aids via text to twin sons Frankie and Quincy. Photo: Tony Gavin
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

LIKE tens of thousands of Irish mums and dads, composer and pianist Frank McNamara grew frustrated when his children began their Leaving Cert.

The dilemma was how to prise teenagers away from their mobile phones when they should be hitting the books, cramming for the most important examination of their lives.

Suddenly, he had a eureka moment. Maybe he could harness the mobile phone habit of second-level students.

The result is a new phone service providing students with daily study tips in the run-up to their Leaving Cert.

The former RTE musician, who is married to TV presenter-turned-barrister Teresa Lowe, came up with the idea to help his 18-year-old twins Frankie and Quincy with their studies.

Frank told the Sunday Independent: "The whole idea was inspired six weeks ago.

"I was sitting in a canteen texting the twins snippets of key points to help them with their music mock exams that day.

"A friend came over and asked how they were getting on in their exams and I said: 'If I could only get their heads out of their phones and into their books, we'd be on to a winner.'

"And that's when the light bulb went off.

"I got in my car that day and went to see a website designer. I researched the best teachers from around the country and they came on board and now the website smstutor.com is ready to go."

The service will be available in April and May of this year at a cost of €5 per month.

Students can also sign up for a text a day for the entire school year next year, September 1 to May 31, for €40.

"That's the cost of a one- hour grind and we have every subject from the whole school year covered.

"And with a little snippet of information, which is to the point, like a flash card, you'll be able to focus their attention," explained Frank.

The former Late Late Show pianist described how he faces the same struggle as other parents of mobile phone-mad teenagers in the run-up to exam season.

"Every night I put my head around the door to see how they are getting on. One night I saw Frankie with his phone in one hand and a book in the other and then Quincy had his phone in the actual book.

"But my kids are no different from anybody else's.

"Every parent has the same experience. One father told me he had to practically wrestle the phone from his daughter's hand. So instead of fighting it, why not embrace it?

"Teresa is very excited about it. She thinks it's a great idea," he added. "Studies show that 100 per cent of texts are opened and 98 per cent are read, so if a teacher had the same success level when she distributed a handout to study in class wouldn't she be only delighted?"

The couple also have two more children, a 15-year-old boy, JJ, and 13-year-old Charlotte.

Music, Irish, Maths, Geography, Spanish, French, Biology and English are among the subjects available on the site.

The service also offers an email option for oral Irish and French subjects, which amounts to 40 per cent of a pupil's grade.

Frank added: "In historic times when King Darius, heard of the burning of Sardis by the Athenians, he instructed his servant to remind him of his enemies every day. 'Remember, my lord, the Athenians!' Well SMStutor serves as a reminder every day that: 'You're doing the Leaving Cert!' We'll even send out a text on Christmas Day."

Sunday Independent

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