With exam time on the horizon for many children, as parents, you will be keen to know what you can do to help your child
during what may be the first time they have experienced some form of stress. Exam pressure seems to start earlier these days with children as young as 10 and 11 sitting their Year 6 SATs in May as well as teenagers facing their GCSEs.
So how can you help?
- Help create a relaxed, yet efficient working space away from distractions such as television, social media and noise from the household, but not totally isolated from the rest of the family, unless this is what your child specifically would like.
- Encourage older children to draw up a timetable, breaking revision times into manageable chunks e.g 45 minutes with 10 minute breaks. This visible aid will give them something structured to work to.
- Ask how best you can help them. This is a time when teenagers will appreciate your input but it is important that this help isn’t forced upon them, but offered ‘on their terms’. We all learn in different ways and what may have worked for you may not be suitable for them, so let them tell you what methods are preferable and what you can do to support that. This may be just taking drinks at break times or more involved support such as working through sample questions together if it is a subject you are familiar with.
- Remind your child that there are many different ways to revise. Pouring over notes and study books can become mind numbing but making a mind map from notes will help to secure the information and make an easy point of reference in future revision sessions. Also, revision websites, such as EdPlace are a child friendly way of revising what will have been learned at school and are particularly helpful for younger children.
- For primary school children, work revision into everyday situations such as maths problems when out shopping or cooking and doing small pieces of writing for you or recognising different styles of writing (persuasive, balanced arguments etc.) in different situations.
- If using revision guides, encourage them to start at a slighty lower level and work up. This will help refresh their memories on a particular subject and also give a feeling of ‘success’ before moving on to more difficult tasks.
- Give praise at every opportunity, even for the smallest achievement.
- Ensure that your child is still participating in other hobbies at which they may excel, such as sports, art or drama. This is particularly important for those children who are less academic and may need to be reminded that their talents lie in subjects other than those they may be being tested on.
- Remind them that is is not a competition against their peers. You only expect them to do their best, not come top of the class!
- Try to end revision sessions on a subject that they are confident in to instill a feeling of success.
Coping With Stress
- Endeavour to make sure students stick to their revision timetable and aren’t tempted to stay up late ‘cramming’. Ensure they have some ‘wind down’ time before bed so that revision isn’t the last thing on their minds before turning in for the night.
- Your involvement will help alleviate pressure from you son or daughter. It will help to make them feel as you are tackling it together and that they can come to you with any worries.
- Make sure plenty of time is set aside for relaxation. Go out for a walk together, watch some television or whatever helps them to relax.
- Mindfulness is also becoming a popular way to deal with all kinds of stress and is a good way to take a ‘pause’ and re-evaluate. There are many easily accessible apps available to guide you through a few minutes of relaxation and make it easier to think clearly again.
Support and guidance in these early stages will help set good habits for future exams. As your child becomes more independent they will appreciate the help you have given in these formative years.
Is your child due to sit exams in May? Are you unsure of how best to help them revise? Try our sample SATs and GCSE worksheets.