June is upon us which, for those of us with older school aged children, means exam time. Yikes! Exam time can be stressful on students, teachers, and families but it’s really the stress on the individual student that can be most harmful. When stress takes over it’s likely that your child’s academic performance will suffer which is a losing outcome. In order to avoid an “academic meltdown” there are several ways in which you at home can help them to not only manage that stress but also aid them in studying more productively and creating a work ethic that will last for the rest of their lives. Here are 4 tips on how you can help your child survive (and excel!) at exam time:
1. Eat Well – Nutrition is very important when it comes to brain activity and managing stress and anxiety levels. On exam day and during the days leading up to it, students need to be getting nutrition that will give them the sustainable energy they need to focus. Too much or too little food can slow them down so make sure you’re providing regular healthy meals for your child (especially breakfast!). Snacks are also very important to keeping alert. Offer your child a banana or some other fruit either while they’re studying or right before the “big test”. A banana will give them energy for longer than a chocolate bar or some other sugary treat. For more info on how to eat well during exams check out this article.
2. Help with Revision
Study partners are a great way to increase learning and you may be the best one for your child! Especially if your child is social, it may be hard to focus when studying with classmates. Offering to help your child study information may be giving them the boost they need to succeed. Depending on your child’s learning style using cue-cards, reading to them, or even creating a study “game” may help them ingest the information easier. Sidenote: I actually learned my times-tables when my mom sat me down and made me play the card game ‘War’ with times-table flash cards! Try figuring out what learning style your child has by getting them to take an online quiz (like this one) and then customize your help from there!
3. Give Encouragement
Encouragement is a key to the success of a child no matter how big or small the ‘test’. Make sure that you are being positive and encouraging to them about the work that they are doing. While bribing them with money and gifts may be tempting, try to avoid it to allow them the chance to develop a personal desire to succeed. It it seems like your child is being overwhelmed by the anxiety and stress of a particular exam, remind them that it is not the end of the world and that you have faith in their abilities. You want your child to value education but make sure they keep a realistic view of the value of each exam so as to not get overwhelmed.
Sometimes we all need to blow off some steam, students included. If it seems that your child is beginning to crumble under the pressure it may be a wise idea to encourage them to take a break and talk to you about their struggles. Make sure that your child knows that they can come to you and just vent if they need to. This not only creates a trust and a sense of camaraderie between you but may also help to ‘let out’ some of the pressure that the student is feeling (pressure that may be negatively affecting their studying and exam performance).
What do you do to help you child/children around exam time?