As a parent you may not know anything about maths or algebra but there are still some great practical ways you can help your child at home. I would suggest you start as early as possible – a few weeks or even a few months before the actual exams. Always be mindful of the fact that the brain needs nurturing, rest and sustenance as it does its job to help your child do his best in the exams.
Help them Get Enough Sleep
This is essential for good health but even more important during exams. Your child needs at least 8 hours sleep every night so they need to be in bed on time. No matter what age they are,you should insist on them getting early nights in the weeks and months before the major exams.
Use a study plan
This is one of my biggest secrets. You can start using this up to a year before the actual exam. The plan will help you and your child stay on top of all the different topics they need to learn without being rushed or overwhelmed. Join us at The Hub (Membership website for parents) to find out more about this. Find a study plan that you can modify and use. Join The Hub.
Download Our Free Checklist of 10 questions to ask your child's teacher
Get regular Exercise
This is self explanatory. Even if your child is not normally active, you can be very intentional about letting them have extra movement in each day. Encourage them to play their favourite sport but if they don’t play any game in particular then walking, cycling, or swimming are great ways for them to get the exercise they need.
Keep them hydrated
This is great for the brain and keeps them alert and helps them concentrate better. Often, feelings of tiredness can be helped by drinking water. Avoid sugary drinks and caffeinated fizzy drinks altogether during exam season.
Avoid negative talk and negative people
Fearful words, frustrated words or hopeless words can affect your child’s confidence during the exams – including the preparation period. Always encourage your child as well as be vigilant to counteract every negative talk you hear them expressing or echoing.
Teach them to deal with nerves
Teach them how to calm themselves down. How to self-regulate and how to control themselves. The “square breathing” exercise recommended by Heidi Woodgate is a practical method they can learn to use to calm their nerves and actually reduce heightened states of anxiety. You can find out more about square breathing in the video of the online workshop we hosted for parents.
Avoid last minute cramming the night before the paper
You want them to be fresh and focused during the exam so at least 12 hours before the paper, all studying and cramming should stop. IF possible get them to do an activity that is completely different from studying – to allow their mind to rest as well as absorb and percolate what they have already learnt.
Listen to classical music
This is another trick that helps the brain to calm down and focus. It has been proven scientifically and really its worth a try to help set the mood for study.
Use a timer
A timer has a way of helping a child stay focused. You can use it during study and even for other everyday activities at home. I use the timer for my son when he’s getting ready for school in the morning and we have made it into a game. (10 minutes to have a bath – ready set go!). Also, if your child is having trouble finishing his test papers on time, you can practice at home with a timer.
Practice test papers
Do a practice test every two or three days. Don’t forget to go over the corrections to review the mistakes. This also helps your child learn to work faster and builds their confidence for when the actual exams are happening.
Use Apps and Study Websites
There are a few of these that could be useful in everyday study and preparation.
I talked about these practical tips in the last couple of minutes during the online workshop on How to Prepare your Child for Major Exams. However, I felt I needed to repeat myself because these are things you can do today that can make an immediate difference and help your child as well as give you a bit of peace of mind and control of the situation.
I wish you the best of luck!