What can I do to help my child deal with exam stress?
The ROSE rule
Some children sail through exams with very little stress. In fact, some parents wish their children would get more stressed about exams! For others even small tests cause real anxiety.
There are lots of ways to help your child deal with exam stress, from practical things like providing healthy food and helping him to getting organized, to actually supporting your child with revision.
This simple rule covers the four things your child will need to do during exam time:
Revise and recap
Organize time and work
Sleep and rest
- Revision needs to be active: reading through notes will not make them stick in your child’s memory.
- Encourage him to make notes, to highlight key points and words and to go over each topic several times.
- At the end of each topic, suggest he makes a short list of the main points. These will be useful for a quick revision session the night before each exam.
- Praise your child when he is working hard. Small rewards can be a real incentive to work, too.
- Work out a revision timetable together early on so that your child allows enough time to cover all the topics he needs to revise. Ticking off each topic as it’s done can help revision seem more manageable.
- Make sure your child is setting realistic targets. Trying to cram in too much creates stress and prevents learning.
- On a calendar, mark exam dates and get a thick pen to cross off exam days once they’re over. This will help you both feel that there is an end in sight!
- Help your child to organize his clothes, food and pens the night before each exam. Feeling organized about the little things will help to cut down on stress.
Sleep & Rest
- Encourage your child to get plenty of sleep and to take regular breaks while he’s revising. The brain will work better if it’s rested.
- Trying to cram in last-minute revision the night before an exam is generally a bad idea. It will make your child panic and might even affect his performance the following day. It’s much better to have a relaxing evening the night before each exam so he can do his best the following day.
- Exercise, even a walk to the shops, will help your child to concentrate when he gets back to work. It can also help him to sleep better.
- Discourage your child from drinking caffeine-rich drinks like tea, coffee and cola in the evening as caffeine can disturb sleep.
- Make sure an alarm is set for the next morning! Waking up in a panic or even arriving late for an exam only makes things more stressful.
- It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet all the time, but during exam times this is vital. Eating well will help your child to focus and do his best. Try to discourage your child from eating lots of sugary snacks, as these can actually stop him from concentrating.
- If the school allows children to take a drink into the exam, do make sure your child does so. It will help him to stay alert. This is especially true during the long exams your child will sit as he gets older.
- Exam stress can make some children lose their appetites. If this happens, encourage your child to eat light meals or sandwiches.
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