Top tips for parents to help children be exam ready
It’s official - it's exam season!
Over the coming weeks, thousands of students across the UK will be sitting their GCSE, Nationals, Highers and A-level exams. Understandably, they and you may feel increasingly anxious in the days leading up to their exams; however, here are a few tips to help your child prepare during exam season.
Provide a calm environment
Try to make your home a calm and quiet place for your child to study – and be sure to minimise distractions and interruptions from siblings (or you) during their revision time. Perhaps there is the option for your child to go to the library, a grandparent or even a neighbour's home that might be quieter than yours! Sometimes a change in scenery can help their level of concentration and remove the familiar distractions of home life.
Whether it's planners, mindmaps, mnemonics or even 'mind palace' memory techniques, there are many different ways to revise and retain large amounts of vital information. Familiarisation with past papers and practising answers builds confidence and skills (something that our Kumon students already know a lot about!)
Revision cue cards can be very useful for some topics. They limit clutter and make it easier for your child to revise or refresh their memory on the go. They’re also a handy tool that you and family members can use to test your child’s knowledge.
Show interest - and give praise
Their way of learning may be different to your technique - try not to nag them but you can still show an interest. Revision is best if it is active. Remind your child to do more than just read notes or watch revision videos. The evidence is that revision works best when students summon information from their memory. Offer to be a revision buddy and find a way to ask them questions. Have them teach you a topic that they are finding difficult. If you can learn it, then it's a useful measure that they know it well too!
Teenagers perform better if they are fuelled appropriately. Whether it's during the exams or the intense pre-exam revision period, preparing something special for them – pancakes or bacon in the morning, perhaps, or their favourite jacket potato filling for lunch – will highlight that these are ‘special’ times and that you are therefore making a special effort for them. It is much better to provide substantial, tasty and homemade meals; sugary treats such as sweets and chocolate may be convenient, but they will simply reduce their concentration levels. And on exam day, help them plan what they'll eat - you don't want them to lose focus halfway through the exam because of hunger pains.
Encourage them to practise structuring and questioning techniques
“In the weeks leading up to your child’s exams, it may be helpful for them to practise structuring and writing techniques using different past or sample exam questions. By doing so, your child may feel more prepared and ready to respond to an essay question with confidence. Questioning is another useful skill that students can practise during the revision process so that it becomes an ingrained habit. By scrutinising the exam questions to understand what is required, students may find that the process of analysing the question will help them to structure their final answer.” Tim Drummond, English teacher, Impington Village College, East Anglia
Talk openly about nerves and stress
Encourage your child not to dwell on their performance in a previous exam, as this could affect their performance in the next one. Encourage your child to focus on their effort and progress, rather than just the end result. Remind your child that it's normal to feel anxious. Nervousness is a natural reaction to exams. The key is to put these nerves to positive use. If anxiety is getting in the way rather than helping, encourage your child to practise the activities they'll be doing on the day of the exam. This will help it feel less scary.
For example, this may involve doing practice papers under exam conditions or thinking about the exam hall and how they might feel on the day. Encourage them to think about what they do know and the time they've already put into studying to help them feel more confident. Remind them that they are doing their best, and that's what matters most.
Schedule time to exercise, rest and relax.
Children may become completely absorbed in the exam process, but it's important they give themselves time to unwind. A revision timetable will ensure your child finishes their work at a fixed time, therefore they can devote the rest of the afternoon/evening to their interests and activities. If the school hasn't helped them draft one, there are plenty of suggestions online for creating effective study timetables and planning their time.
Help them get a good night's sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is more important than ever during exam season. Whilst your child may feel the need to cram in revision the night before, they will be far more alert and better able to recall information after a restful night’s sleep.
Students that have studied Kumon, are very used to daily practice, regular testing, recapping topics and using newly learned information to apply to their current study. These valuable study skills and the ability to study independently are just some of the aspects that our Instructors inculcate, which that means along with their maths and English abilities, a Kumon student tends to be well prepared for exam success.
Good luck to everyone sitting their exams!