Exams are just around the corner and your child is feeling the pressure. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child succeed. But at the same time, you don’t want to apply too much undue pressure on your child yourself.
Here are five ways to keep your child calm and collected as exam season rolls in.
1) Help them to develop a study plan
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to help your child develop a study plan. This will give them a structure to follow and ensure that they are covering all the necessary material for their classes.
The best way to do this is by planning ahead. Before the educator even announces the exams, sit down with your child and go through their syllabus. This way you will know exactly what they need to study and can start plotting out the dates in advance.
Of course, there may be changes during the semester and you’ll have to account for them. But having a skeletal plan in place will give your child a sense of control and help to minimize any feelings of panic when exams kick in.
2) Set realistic goals
We all want our children to do well on their exams, but it’s important to set the right goals. If your child is aiming for perfection, they’re going to be disappointed and stressed when they don’t achieve it. This can be demotivating and make them lose confidence in their abilities, which can be detrimental to the outcome of their future exams.
That said, be sure that the goal you set is something your child can reasonably achieve. If they’re struggling in a particular subject, setting a high goal for that exam is only going to add to their stress. But aiming too low will also do them a disservice. Work with your child to find a balance that will push them to do their best. Rewarding them with small incentives for meeting their goals can also be a helpful way to keep them on track.
3) Get study materials in advance
While having the right mindset before an exam is crucial, it’s also important that your child is equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.
One way to help with this is by getting study materials in advance. This way, your child can start studying as soon as possible and won’t have to rely on stock knowledge or last-minute cramming the night before the test.
If your child is preparing for their selective school entry exams, for instance, buying a personalised exam preparation course may be a good investment. These courses often include extensive practice questions and study notes to help your child excel in their exams
If your child has friends in higher grades, ask if they would be willing to share their old textbooks or notes. You could also look online for free resources to help add to your child’s understanding of the material.
4) Practice relaxation techniques
Feeling anxious before a test is normal. However, if your child is experiencing physical symptoms like nausea and a fast heart rate, it may be beneficial for them to practice some relaxation techniques.
Here are some helpful techniques that you can teach your child to help them get their mind ready for their exam:
- Deep breathing exercises: Have your child focus on taking slow, deep breaths for two to five minutes. Keep your eyes shut and focus intentionally on the air that passes in and outside your lungs. Take a lungful of air that expands your stomach, then your lungs. Hold it in for a few seconds, then exhale.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing various muscle groups in the body. For example, start by tensing the muscles in your child’s fist for five seconds, then have them relax. Work through all the major muscle groups in the body, including the arms, legs, back and neck.
- Focus on the anxiety: Allow your child to pinpoint the source of their anxiety in their body. Where is it that they feel most tense and uncomfortable? Once your child has identified this source, have them intentionally focus on it. This will help to release the tension and calm them down.
- Self-encouragement: Turn your child’s anxiety into something positive. For example, if they’re thinking “I’m going to fail this test,” change it to “I’m feeling a little anxious right now, but that means I’m prepared and ready to do my best.”
5) Help them to create a study space
The study environment of your child can have a big impact on their productivity and stress levels. A cluttered and chaotic space will only add to their anxiety, so it’s important to help them create a study area that is calm and organized.
One way to do this is by clearing out a space in your home that can be dedicated to studying. This doesn’t have to be a separate room, but it should be an area where your child can spread out their materials and not be distracted by other things going on in the house.
If your child is using a laptop or personal desktop to study, be sure to minimise any other distractions from their workspace, such as social media notifications and games.