Tips for parents on how to survive exam time

Tips for parents on how to survive exam time

Exam time is often stressful for children, but many parents suffer from exam anxiety too, worrying about their kids’ performance and even revision.

According to a recent survey in the UK, nearly a quarter of the parents polled said their own mental health had been affected by the pressure of their children’s exams. A quarter also said they had often lost sleep worrying over their children’s exams.

An alarming two in five parents said that not knowing how to help their children with revision made them feel as if they were “not good enough as parents”. And nearly a third said they had offered their children money as an incentive to revise in the hope of boosting their marks.  The poll also found that more than half would like more help and advice on how to support their children through revision.

“We often come across parents who are stressed about their children’s exams and studying, and in some cases, they’re even more worried than their kids are,” says Claudia Swartzberg, CEO of Top Dog Education. “Parents’ stress can have a negative effect on their child’s self-esteem and even performance, which might even perpetuate the cycle of stress,” says Swartzberg.

To alleviate parental exam stress, and to help them with their children’s learning and revision, Top Dog has the following tips for parents:

  • Identify your child’s best way to learn: Try to identify how your child enjoys studying best, and adopt strategies around that. For example, kinaesthetic learners like to learn via movement such as dancing, counting fingers, gestures or even acting. Auditory learners absorb information the best through sound such as songs and recordings, while visual learners study best through picture stories, shapes, mind maps and even paintings.
  • Create a great learning environment: A good atmosphere and comfortable learning space can lead to productive learning and revision. Ensure your child has what they need to thrive, whether it’s sufficient light and quiet, or a comfortable chair and the necessary stationery.
  • Get them to “teach”: A good way to get children to understand what they are learning, or to just practice their revision, is for them to “teach” you. Ask your child to pretend they’re the teacher, and go through a mock “lesson”.
  • Spread out revision: It’s difficult for anyone to concentrate on learning for long periods of time, so ensure your child is taking short breaks between revision bursts.
  • Support them: Studying is not always fun or easy, so praise your children when they are working hard. Encourage rather than threaten, as kids don’t need more stress during exam pressure. If they do get stressed, try to respond to their emotions by listening, reassuring them, or hugging them. Once they’ve calmed down, you can deal with practical solutions, such as setting up a revision timetable, or getting the necessary help they might need.
  • Ensure they’re sleeping sufficiently: Sleep is important to not only give children mental and physical rest, but to consolidate what’s been learnt during the day. Ensure their room is dark as light interferes with melatonin (the hormone needed for sleep) production. The blue light emitted by tablets and phones can also be disruptive to sleep.
  • Set up “rewards”: Incentivise studying and exams not necessarily through material rewards or “prizes”, but through fun activities that children can look forward to after a series of revisions or after an exam. Incentives can include a dinner out at a restaurant, or watching sport or series together. Or better yet, ask them what they want to do the most.

“Parents needn’t feel alone with their children’s curriculum and revision. The key is to ensure a personalised and powerful learning experience which can also be achieved through technology interventions,” concludes Swartzberg.

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