Ten Ways To Prepare Your Kids For Their Exams

Ten Ways To Prepare Your Kids For Their Exams

Whether your kids are five, ten or fifteen, getting them ready for tests, quizzes or exams can be stressful for both you and them. 15% of GCSE students describe themselves as ‘highly test anxious’, which can have a significant impact not only on the run up to exams, but their performance on the day of as well. Here are The Motherload®’s top ten tips for preparing your kids (and you as a grown-up), for their exams.

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1. Give Them Some Additional Support

Whether your child is excelling at school or needs some additional support, an online tutor is an excellent way to prepare them for their exams. Maths and Physics tutoring online for exams, as well as other core subjects like English, can help your child with some additional support in advance. Having a tutor throughout the school year can help them with their preparation well in advance so they’re not panicking the term beforehand. The costs of a tutor aren’t always really expensive, either. Check out local tutors nearby to give your kids a boost ahead of their exams. Online tuition can also help in case in-person visits aren’t possible.

2. Study Alongside Them

Are you getting confused when helping your kids with their maths homework? Perhaps studying alongside them can give you both a boost. If they see you studying, they won’t feel like they’re on their own. Whether you browse GCSE Bitesize, or embark on an English A Level, helping yourself as well as your kids is a great way to show your kids how to embrace studying and develop yourself at the same time.

You don’t have to study the same courses as them, either. If you’re ready to embrace the next step of your learning, Universities like Birkbeck offer flexible night classes so you can still work, spend time with your kids, and embrace your own self development. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in official adult learning, there are also a number of free courses online, covering everything from finance to creative writing.

3. Make Sure They Have A Schedule

Giving your kids a sense of structure around their studies can help prepare them for exams. You don’t need to pack out their schedule, as this can have a counterproductive effect. But, allocating a couple of hours each day for study can help them get into the swing of studying, and get them ready for the discipline of sitting down and having an exam.

When creating a schedule with your kids, remember that kids have different learning styles and times. Like adults, they’re productive at different times of the day. In fact, teenagers are biologically predisposed to laying in right up until the age of 20. So work with your kids to find a study schedule that works for them.

4. Create A Balance Between Work And Fun

Putting the focus exclusively on tests is going to decrease their interest in study and ultimately lead to teenage burnout. Create a life that will set them up for a good future work-life balance. Ensure they’ve got a set of hobbies, but that aren’t blocking out a full calendar. Balance time in front of a computer with exercise and time outdoors.

Creating a balance is a great way to encourage your kids to ‘pace’ themselves – prepare in advance for tests and exams, without a last minute dash to the finish line. As adults, we often struggle with burnout in our own working life, so instilling balance for our kids early on in life will only set them up for the future.

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5. Make Sure They Have A Quiet Study Space

Giving kids a quiet place to study will incentivise even the most reluctant learner to sit down and learn. A global study showed that children with their own study spaces tended to perform more highly than those without quiet study spaces

A study space should be tailored to your child’s personality and learning preference. Younger learners may benefit from more engaging spaces, while older learners may need a quieter area. The space should be comfortable, but not so relaxing that they doze off. A chair and desk should also be ergonomically comfortable – especially if your kid tends to slouch or lean on desks in class.

6. Create An Environment That Encourages Learning

Encouraging your child to love learning from an early age is a great way to help them enjoy studying too. Ask them about what they’re studying, learning, and what they enjoy doing. Where possible, supplement it with an active experience – it doesn’t have to be super expensive, but could be a visit to the local park or aquarium if they’re learning about biology.

If you have a reluctant learner, then engaging them in games or immersive activities like creative writing can encourage them to engage with the subjects they find more challenging. Try to be supportive as much as you can and help them discover how they like to learn – the three main types of learning are auditory, visual or kinesthetic (by action or movement). Incorporate movement, visuals or sounds into their study depending on the learning type they prefer.

7. Help Them Develop Their Emotional Education

Exam anxiety is a common occurrence for children of all ages. Starting a conversation early about emotions is important to ensure your children are coping with the stress of exams. Developing an open sort of relationship with your kids early is key, as they’re only going to want to talk to you about their feelings if it’s something you openly discuss as standard.

When your children are in primary school, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. As adults, we struggle with emotional intelligence, so its natural children will find it hard at times. Let them learn how their anger might come out when they are frustrated. If you have older children, encourage them to seek help if they are finding things hard. Don’t be afraid to call for expert help if you are concerned for their wellbeing.

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8. Make Sure You Stay Calm

You might not realise it, but your kids’ anxiety might be related to your own emotions. Children pick up on stress, and if you are having a difficult time, it might affect them too. Kids that are frequently exposed to stress have higher chances of obesity and difficulty coping with stress into adult life.

This doesn’t mean that you should beat yourself up, however. Instead, this is an incentive to be kind to yourself. If work or family stressors are getting on top of you, take a breather from the focus of exams and bring your own stress levels down. You’ll thank yourself later when you see your own kids cope with stress in a positive way.

9. Teach Them To Try

For many of us, people have a lot of anxiety linked to failure, and kids are no different. Fear of failure can lead people of all ages not to take risks and give less than their best. Encouraging kids to try new things, even if they fail, will ultimately reduce the anxiety surrounding failure. As adults, it’s something we need to embrace ourselves. 

As parents, we do have the tendency to focus on the good grades themselves, rather than the process of preparing for and sitting the exam. Taking the focus off the importance of grades and focusing on the process of trying is essential. Even if they fail, if they’ve tried their best, there’s not much else they could have done.

10. Help Them Realise It’s Not All About Exams

As children, once you pass your first test, you will need to then pass more tests, from GCSE, to A Level and University. Taking the focus away from exams and putting the focus on learning is a great way to take away the pressure of consistently achieving and passing exams.

As we all know, exams are not necessarily a marker of intelligence. You can learn how to pass an exam rather than properly learn the subject you are studying. Those kids that were high achievers may struggle with adult life, if they’ve put unnecessary pressure on themselves to study hard and pass their exams. 

Takeaway: Help Your Kids Love Learning, Not Just Pass Exams

Exams are a necessary part of learning, as they are used to measure subject understanding, and provide clear guidelines for kids to work towards. Helping your kids create their own private study areas and a clear schedule will help them prepare for learning and exams well in advance. Investing in extra support at the start of a school year will pay off as it can help your child feel more confident. 

Ultimately, helping your kids engage with learning over just passing exams will help them succeed in adult life. Working on their emotional intelligence, and developing their enthusiasm for new things will reduce exam anxiety. Staying calm as a parent will also teach your kids to do the same. Creating a life of balance (work and fun), will help your children flourish and achieve well into the future.

Kate Dyson

Kate is the Founder of The Motherload, the 'owner' of one husband, two daughters, two cats and one rabbit. She loves wine, loathes exercise and fervently believes in the power of women supporting women. Find me on instagram: @themotherloadhq

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