How to support stress free exams in 7 steps (for parents)

So, today I’m going to share with you the 7 steps for stress free exams that you, as a parent, can take to ensure you’re supporting your child along their journey.

It can be tricky knowing how to best support your child as they prepare for exams. Seeing them flustered, worried, and exhausted can often times have you want to swoop in and save the day. But you can’t. 

While I am no fan of standardised testing, I appreciate the many skills that students can benefit from if they’ve prepared for their exams effectively. 

1. Talk about the stress

Have a discussion with your child and find out if they are worried or not. Ask about what they want to see on the papers, and what they worry will be on the papers. 

By opening up the line of communication in a relaxed and open manner, your child will feel more at ease coming to you in the future. Remember, this isn’t about opening a winge session, rather it’s about creating a better understanding of where your child is at mentally and offering empathy for their journey. 

Remember: Empathy is acknowledging someone’s journey, it creates connection. Sympathy is taking on someone’s journey, it creates disconnect. 

2. Encourage a balance between work and rest

While you can’t ‘save the day’, you do have an important role in leading the way in time management and organisation. Maintaining a balance of revision and relaxation is beneficial not only for the current moment but also because it instills a good study and work habit. 

Remember: Leading is to suggest and show by example. Are you taking breaks and demonstrating good time management skills? Telling is becoming superior and imposing on your child. They aren’t going to be exactly like you so accept they won’t follow all the suggestions you make. That’s okay, they’re learning their own way and you’re helping.

3. Fuel for success with the right foods

Brain food is a real thing! Ensure your child has a well balanced food regime that will support all of the work they’re doing studying. When we eat a consistently balance food filled with lean proteins, low glycemic carbohydrates and plenty of micronutrients from fruits and vegetables, our body can work at its optimum level. Try and avoid refined sugars as a daily staple as they burn through the digestive system too quickly and can cause a spike in their blood sugar. 

4. Maintain the Zzzs to boost the memory

The only number we should truly be focused on during exam week is the amount of hours children get restful sleep. The average child will require 6-8 hours of sleep in order to feel fully refreshed. Plus, sleep affects memory faculties. Therefore not enough sleep can lead to an increase in anxiety and second guessing. Click here to learn about creating a bedtime routine.

5. Create the Environment

Having a designated spot for your child to do (little and often) revision can help with cognition and time efficiency. With all equipment readily accessible, students are able to crack on with revising without wasting time looking for a protractor. You can further personalise their space with study note posters and affirmations to keep the morale high and the learning passive.

6. Offer Encouragement

There is a lot of pressure for exams – any kind of exam!

One of my students has shared that she writes knowing that she is a reflection of her teachers, the school, her parents, and herself! That’s a lot of pressure for a young mind to handle alone. So while we don’t want to cushion them with too much hurrah! it is important to provide encouragement and support that highlights the action they completed well and create stress free exams.

For example: 

Well done!

Is not nearly as effective as 

Well done seeing that question through to the end. I noticed you got a bit stuck with the fractions to decimal part. That’s okay, using your notes is a great habit to make sure you’re putting in the full effort. 

7. Respect their space

I know you only want what’s best for your child. And I understand that means providing them with an education that will open doors for their future. While you can see the bigger picture, sometimes our children can’t see past this one exam. So don’t continuously bring it up to see ‘how it’s going’, and don’t rush to them to find out the moment they wrote the exam how they thought they did. Show them respect by giving them the space to come to you in due time. You opened up the line of communication in tip #1, now it’s time to give them space to seek your support. 

But, if you’re burning to know and simply can’t wait: envelop them in a big hug and state that you’d love to hear what they thought about the experience when they’re ready. Then, move on.

I know exams can be tough for anyone at any age – I hope these 7 tips to supporting stress free exam season are helpful, but remember if you’re looking for more support you can reach out to us. Our tutors offer 1-1 and small group tuition sessions that are sure to help your child pass the 11+, GCSEs and A Levels!

4 thoughts on “How to support stress free exams in 7 steps (for parents)”

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