How To Make Exam Preparation Less Stressful For Your Child
With exams around the corner, a little bit of planning and a few simple tricks is all you need to make exam preparation less stressful for your child. Find out how!
By Team ParentCircle • 11 min read
Madhu’s hands start to tremble as her 12th standard teacher announces the final examination schedule. She has been dreading this moment. She feels unprepared, anxious and stressed. She takes a deep breath and vows to immediately start preparing for the exams. However, over the next few days, her parents notice that Madhu is irritable, stressed and moody.
Does Madhu’s situation sound familiar? The pressure of preparing for exams is sure nerve-racking. While schedules are often given out ahead of time, many students still wait till the last moment and start studying only when the exams draw closer. They are unable to manage their time and study-load. Panic sets in, which makes it very difficult for the child to concentrate and study.
The right time to start studying for exams
There’s no doubt that it is best to encourage children to study the portions as and when the lessons are taught in class. This way, they will have a good knowledge of the subjects and will find it easier to study for the exams. However, that’s not usually the case. The seriousness of examinations often hits children only a couple of weeks before the exams. So, many of them begin exam preparations at the eleventh hour. This last-minute cramming only adds to the stress. To counter this, it is best to have your child set up a plan that includes tasks to be accomplished in a set time frame.
Making a plan that works
The first step is to help your child make a study plan that works for him. Next, you need to make sure he is able to adhere to the plan. Today, it is easy for your child to get distracted with smartphones, gadgets, television, Internet and social media. That said, here are some tips that can help your child stick to her plan of study. Encourage your child to:
Assess gaps in learning
For each subject, help your child list out the topics he doesn’t understand or finds challenging. Help him think and plan his approach to prepare for these topics.
What you can do: Ask your child a few thought-provoking questions like these:
- Which topics are difficult for you in this particular subject?
- How are you going to study these topics?
- Do you need extra tutoring or help from your teacher?
- How much extra time are you going to devote to these topics?
Make a study plan
Get your child to make a study plan for each subject and help her set up a study time-table. Some subjects will need more study time than the others, so get your child to plan accordingly. It is important that your child makes a practical timetable that takes into account breaks, extra-curricular activities and even time for the TV or mobile phone! The plan should include the chapters that need to be covered and the tasks that need to be completed within the specified time.
What you can do: Ask your child to use a diary, a planning calendar, or one of the many planning apps freely available on their mobile phones to set up his study schedule.
Take short breaks
While it may seem that the child can study many topics in one sitting, recollecting all this information can become challenging. The brain needs rest to be able to retain more information.
What you can do: Encourage your child to take a 5 to 7-minute break after studying for 45 minutes. This will go a long way in helping her retain what she has studied.
Keep away the gadgets
Research shows that the brain is most effective when it is focused on one thing and not while it is multi-tasking. Smartphones and social media can be a huge distraction during study time as your child is likely to keep checking his phone for messages.
Even if your child must use the Internet for study purposes, make sure he stays away from the distractions of various social media platforms.
What you can do: Ask your child to hand over her smartphone or even her computer (if it is not required) while studying. Let her use it only when she takes her breaks.
Switch between subjects
Instead of studying the same subject the whole day, it is best to switch between subjects in different categories - analytical, theoretical and creative. By alternating the subjects from these categories, your child's brain will be less stressed and its retention power increases.
What you can do: If your child has been studying maths for 2 hours, encourage him to take a break and switch to social studies after the break.
Several research studies show that just 20 minutes of exercise a day can boost concentration and improve focus. It will help relieve your child's boredom and re-energise his body and mind
Studying in a room all day can get quite boring. Besides, several research studies show that just 20 minutes of exercise a day can boost concentration and improve focus. So, get your child out of his room and thrust him into some physical activity. This will help relieve his boredom and re-energise his body and mind.
What you can do: Make sure your child sets aside at least 20 minutes a day for physical exercise. Get her to run, walk or play a sport, or simply dance to his favourite music.
Eat the right food
In research conducted at the University of Oxford, college students were tested for attention and thinking speed. They were then fed a low-carb, high-fat diet of meats, eggs, cream and cheese. When tested again, their performance declined. But, the performance of students who ate a balanced diet that included fruits and vegetables held steady. It is therefore important to ensure your child eats a healthy and balanced diet during his exam preparation time.
What you can do: Let your child start the day with a high-carb, high-fibre breakfast. Keep plenty of healthy snacks like nuts and dry fruits available during study time.
Good sleep is crucial for enhancing thinking skills, boosting memory and improving concentration
Get enough sleep
Many students pull an all-nighter studying and therefore, wake up tired the next day. The mind and body need enough rest to recuperate and start afresh the next day. Good sleep is crucial for enhancing thinking skills, boosting memory and improving concentration.
What you can do: Give your child this magical tip – to learn the toughest portion right before he heads to bed. The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep is proven to boost memory and so he is likely to retain this information better!
During the time of exams, children are often stressed because they are worried about their inability to meet the expectations of their family members, school or peers, and are afraid of failure. As a parent, it is important to help your child overcome this fear. Encourage your child put in the necessary effort and give it her best shot. Let your child know you are with her every step of the way.
Give 15 minutes of your time: Boost your child’s grades from B+ to A
A recent study by Stanford University, titled, Strategic Resource Use for Learning: A Self-Administered Intervention That Guides Self-Reflection on Effective Resource Use Enhances Academic Performance, 2017, shows that when children think about how they want to perform and what they should do to improve, their performance improves. So, spending just 15 minutes of your time with your child and helping him reflect on his preparation can magically translate into good scores.
10 questions to get your child thinking and planning
- What’s the grade you want to get in this subject?
- How important is it for you to get this grade?
- What do you need to do to get this grade?
- What makes you most anxious about taking the exam in this subject?
- What topics or types of questions do you find difficult?
- What is working well for you?
- What is not working well? What can you do differently, so you can do better?
- How are others doing this? Will that help you?
- How much extra time do you think you will need to study this?
- What resources are you going to use to help you study better?
Are you going to:
- Get help from the class teacher?
- Work with your tuition teacher?
- Learn from Apps or resources online?
- Which books will you use?
- Any learning tools?
Simple hack to reduce exam anxiety:
Even if your child is well prepared, does she get very anxious and stressed before the exams? Is that affecting her exam performance and grades? Here’s a simple hack that can help your child feel less anxious and more confident:
A day before the exam, or even just an hour before, have your child write down all the things that make him anxious about the exam. He may write down – I did not learn this lesson, What if I fail?, I don't like multiple choice questions, What if I don't understand the questions or don't know the answers? and so on…
This simple act of just listing out the reasons for his anxiety will reduce his anxiety level. Have your child try this simple hack and watch him heave a sigh of relief before his exam.
Stressed about exams? Call our Counsellors on 8754414666 / 044-66236611 in Feb (Tues & Fri, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
About the author:
Published by Team ParentCircle on 30 January 2020.
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