How to help your child prepare for exams?
Photo by Zen Chung
Preparing for exams is a very stressful time for a child and can be filled with frustration and anxiety. As a parent, this can be difficult to manage but there are some strategies you can implement to help your child through the revision process. Every child is different but with a bit of experimentation, you’ll be able to support and encourage your child so that they can go into the exam season feeling more prepared, relaxed, and confident.
Create a study schedule
A study schedule is something that will outline what your child will be studying and at what time. To help your child make one, you can check their exam calendar to see when each one is (if they are doing multiple tests) which can allow you both to decide what needs to be prioritized. You should also determine which subjects need more study time, factoring things like difficulty and your child’s confidence with each. Periodically review the study schedule with your child and revise it as needed. As exams approach, you may need to adjust the schedule to ensure that your child has enough time to review all the material.
Provide practice papers
Make sure that your child is using the correct type of past paper so that they are practicing the right type of questions and covering the right material. So if you’re child is studying for an 11+ entrance exam then they may need the 11+ CSSE Essex Practice Paper 1, but if they’re studying for their GCSEs then make sure to check the exam board – these include AQA, OCR, Pearson, and WJEC Eduqas – to select the right type of past papers.
Practice papers allow your child to become familiar with the format of the exam paper, improve their time management and identify any gaps in their knowledge they need to improve on. As a parent, you could occasionally sit them down under exam conditions by timing them and taking away any phones or laptops.
Although taking a break may seem like an interruption to the study process, it can actually have a positive impact on your child’s performance and help to reduce stress. If your child spends too long studying without taking a break, they may become fatigued, and their concentration and retention of information may suffer as a result. By taking regular breaks, your child can recharge their mental batteries and return to their studies with renewed energy and concentration. Furthermore, breaks provide the brain an opportunity to process the information they have just learned, which can help to consolidate it in their memory. This means that they are more likely to remember what they have learned when it comes to exam time.
Help create healthy habits
Developing and supporting healthy habits is crucial for exam success, as good health is closely linked to academic performance. When students are in good health, they are better able to concentrate, process information, and remember what they have learned. Aim to provide your child with nutritious meals and plenty of water throughout the day (or encourage them to make their own healthy meals on their breaks!). Physical activity can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function so you can also try exercising with your child by playing sports or going on bike rides and walks.
One of the most vital habits, and one of the most overlooked during exams, is getting a good night’s rest. Adequate sleep is critical for academic success, as it helps to improve memory consolidation and information processing. Help your child to establish a regular sleep routine and to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Celebrating achievements is an important aspect of supporting your child’s exam preparation. It can help to motivate them, boost their confidence, and provide a sense of accomplishment. Here are some ways in which you can celebrate your child’s achievements during exam preparation:
- Acknowledge progress: Take the time to recognize when they have accomplished a task or learned a new concept. This can be as simple as saying “good job” or “well done” after a study session or practice exam.
- Offer rewards: Consider offering rewards for achieving specific goals or milestones. Rewards can be something small, such as a favorite snack or activity, or something bigger, such as a new piece of technology or a special outing – this can motivate them towards a specific outcome.
- Celebrate with family and friends: When your child achieves a significant goal or milestone, consider celebrating with family and friends. This can provide a sense of community and support and can help your child feel proud of their accomplishments. Celebrations can be as simple as having a family dinner or as elaborate as throwing a party with friends and relatives.
- Encourage self-reflection: Bolster your child to reflect on their achievements and what they have learned along the way. This can help them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to set goals for future improvement. Self-reflection can also help your child to build confidence and resilience, as they learn to recognize and celebrate their own achievements.
Just knowing that you are there for your child can be a massive help to them. Providing help and resources when they need it, but also encouraging your child to take responsibility for their learning can be the push they need to take control of the situation. Exams are stressful so there may be tension and anger at some points, but having patience and understanding is crucial. Another way of supporting them can include helping your child to keep their study area clean and organized to help minimize distractions and improve focus.
In conclusion, preparing for exams can be a stressful and challenging time for children, but there are many strategies that parents can use to support them. By creating a study schedule, encouraging breaks, practicing past exam papers, promoting healthy habits, and celebrating achievements, parents can help their children to feel more confident and motivated during their exam preparation. It’s important to remember that every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. Therefore, it’s essential to be flexible and open to adjusting your approach as needed. Ultimately, with patience, understanding, and support, parents can help their children navigate the exam season successfully and set them up for a lifetime of academic success.