Exam time is worrying for most children, and nowadays, even young children are facing tests at school and the pressures that come with them. You may remember facing exams in your own school days and be keen to help your children to do well while avoiding the stress and worry that you experienced yourself. The good news is, while children today do face more testing, there is far more support available. Below is a look at some of the ways that you can help your children handle testing at school.
Talk to Them About Testing and What to Expect
Younger children especially might not understand why they are being tested, what to expect, and what might happen. Learn as much as you can about the processes at their school, speaking with their teacher if you need to, and explain. Talk to them about why they are tested, and explain that tests are used as a standardized system of monitoring progress. Tell them what to expect on test day, and what will happen afterwards. Encourage them to ask questions and explain that you will find out the answers if you don’t already know.
Practice at Home
Tests can be scary, and we’re often more anxious when we don’t know what to expect. Many children make mistakes simply because the process is unusual. You should urge them to practice beforehand, finding practice papers and tests online, and asking the school about past years’ papers.
Praise Their Successes
Go out of your way to praise their successes, however small they might be. Even if they do poorly on a practice paper, praise them for trying, for sitting and taking the paper quietly, and for anything that they did well. Highlight correct answers and praise their attitude.
Don’t Make Them Afraid to Fail
While you should help them to see where they went wrong and why, don’t get frustrated with them. Paying more attention to what went well and using mistakes as a teaching opportunity means that they won’t be scared to fail. They won’t go into the exam frightened of letting you down, and so they are less likely to make mistakes due to anxiety.
Set Aside Revision Time
Revision is crucial, especially as our children grow and start to face more serious examinations. Set aside time for them to revise and make sure they’ve got a quiet and comfortable space to do it. But try not to nag as this may make them resentful.
Make Some Other Plans
You will want your child to be focused on their exams. But, they’ll find it easier to bear the pressure if they have some positive things to look forward to. Make some other plans with them, even small things like a weekend cinema trip, when you need to lighten the mood.
Watch Out for Signs of Stress
Many children suffer from stress and anxiety around exam time. This can affect their performance and also be bad for their mental health. Signs of stress might involve being less chatty than usual, not sleeping, poor behaviour or mood, and not eating properly. If you spot any of these signs, encourage them to take a break and talk to them about coping strategies.
Remember, exams are a big deal for your child. They’ve got a lot going on, and revision is their priority. Be flexible with other plans, let some of your rules (like keeping a tidy bedroom) slide, and try to avoid any extra pressure where possible.
Exam time can be difficult for the whole household. Remember not to obsess, to let your child take a break, and to not inadvertently apply more pressure by never talking about anything else. With your help and support, this can be a learning experience that sets them up for the future.