Tests and exams can be a major source of stress during the schooling years for both children and their parents. However, there are ways to help your child cope with the pressure and ace the exams.
Here are some simple pointers to help you get started:
1. Look out for the signs of exam stress
Recognise the warning signs that your child is feeling stressed or on the verge of burning out. Some common signs of stress include:
- Not sleeping well
- Low mood
- Low confidence
- Queasy tummy, headache or flare up of skin conditions such as eczema
Having your child talk to someone about their work can help to ease their worries and keep things in perspective. This can be a parent, tutor or friend – just as long as they feel comfortable talking to them about their challenges.
If you sense that your child is still not coping well with exam stress, it might be worthwhile to talk to their teachers in school and come up with a game plan to help him/her manage the stress, both at home and in school.
2. Set goals and expectations that are achievable
According to Dr. Ramya Mohan, a London-based consultant psychiatrist, it is important for parents to understand and focus on their child’s strengths and interests, while at the same time acknowledge their weaknesses.
You can tell them stories about how other children with similar weak points braved through the challenges or how they managed to overcome all obstacles with the help of a mentor. This can help children work out solutions to their own difficulties in a gentler, more inspiring way. At the end of the day, the key lesson to reinforce is that failure is part of the learning process and that we all learn from our mistakes.
3. Set up a cosy study corner
When your child is studying or going through their homework, it is necessary to set up a study corner that is comfortable and conducive to work in, while keeping distractions away. All the materials needed should be within reach so that they do not have to spend time to track them down – this includes the basics such as pens, pencils, sticky notes, printer and paper, as well as electronic devices such as tablets and laptops/PC.
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4. Help your child with the prep work
Guide your child in planning ahead for their exams by setting up the following in your home:
- Pin up the exam schedule in a visible place (e.g. on the fridge), as this helps to ensure that everyone in the family is aware.
- Create a revision timeline and a set of to-do list to work on as the exam day draws near.
On top of the revision preparations, ensure that your child takes notes of all the minor details during exam day, such as the time to report in for the exam and the room in which the exam will be conducted. Having all these details in mind can help to minimise their worry on the day itself.
5. Talk about exam nerves
It is natural for your child to feel nervous during the exam period, but you can help him/her get through this in a positive way. Remind your child of the work he/she has put into studying and the amount of knowledge that he/she has by now, as these could go a long way to give your nervous child that much-needed confident boost.
Want to know how study breaks, nutritious meals and a good night’s sleep help your child cope with exam stress? More on this on the next page.