Does the mention of the word “exams” make you cringe? Does it bring back memories of late-night studying or that familiar sense of dread? Parents, take heart! There are a few things you can do to help your student avoid last-minute cramming and a stressful exam week.
Know the exam schedule
First of all, you need to know when and what your students’ exams are. Have you been blissfully unaware of test dates and when papers are due? You don’t have to take over your child’s schedule. Just ask a few questions, and jot down important dates so that you will be in the know. Find out if your student is struggling in a certain class. If so, remind him or her to plan for extra study time or arrange for some tutoring.
Kids need a place to study
Keep your environment quiet and relaxing. Don’t plan a big party or a family get-together the night before Johnny’s tough math exam. Make sure other family members are aware of study hours. Those who don’t have exams shouldn’t be allowed to be a distraction for those who do have to study. Limit screen time or at least make sure the volume is down for those who don’t have exams. Basically, keep outside activities to a minimum.
Take study breaks
Don’t forget to encourage breaks. Provide your students with nutritious snacks they can enjoy. And when studying for long hours, exercise is a great way to refresh the brain. Encourage your child to take a walk or go for a run, shoot some baskets or jump rope. Whatever they enjoy! Ever hear the saying: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? Well, it’s true. Give your students something to look forward. If they get their work done and study hard, let them have some fun.
Encourage, but don’t pressure
Encourage your student to do her best, but don’t pressure. It’s important that children work had for themselves, not just for their parents. They should take pride in and enjoy certain subjects (maybe not all). Nagging can be counterproductive and might add unnecessary stress. Bribes like money or special privileges can backfire, implying that the good study habits are not worthwhile on their own.
Let the student take responsibility
Be prepared to let your child take responsibility for his or her actions. Remember, if your child fails or doesn’t live up to your expectations, all is not lost. It’s not your reputation that is on the line. Consider it, instead, a signal that something needs to change. You might need to have a frank discussion with your student or with the teacher. Maybe your student made a poor decision and decided to write a paper on the same night she had to study for two exams. Or maybe he stayed up too late watching a sporting event instead of studying.
Kids need to experience the consequence of their actions in order to learn. Some kids just need to know someone is overseeing them. Losing TV or phone privileges on school nights or weekends will help redirect them. And for some kids, a bad grade is a punishment in itself.
No matter what, it’s important for parents to step back and disengage from their own emotions. Exams are stressful for kids, and most of them want to succeed. When parents provide a loving, quiet atmosphere where schoolwork is prioritized, they give their kids the opportunity to succeed.