Q: My daughter is sitting her Primary School Leaving Examination. I have taken leave for the next few weeks. How can I help her and support her through the exams?
A: You can help your daughter in her revision in many ways. One of the best is to make home life as calm and pleasant as possible.
Find a quiet area where she can study with the least distraction. Make sure she has all she needs – pens, pencils, highlighters and cards for creating revision notes.
For most children, concentration falls off after 30 minutes to one hour. So break revision time into chunks with short rests at the end of each session.
Other ways include encouraging your daughter to get her notes in order for each subject before starting on the revision.
You may want to go through school notes with her or listen while she revises a topic. If she finds it difficult to grasp certain material or has a question which you can’t answer, ask her to note it down and seek her teacher’s help.
Encourage your daughter to set daily targets and tick them off when she achieves them. This will build confidence and lessen anxiety.
Encourage her to take breaks, say, walking with you to the supermarket. It will help clear her mind before the next revision session.
Check the dates of each exam and keep a record of them somewhere you can easily see.
Sleep is important, so make sure she gets adequate shut-eye.
Make a final check each morning before she leaves home. Ensure that she has her writing instruments, along with other requirements.
After each exam, your daughter may want to talk about the paper, especially if she feels anxious. Be positive and encourage her.
Let her know you appreciate her effort and will support her, regardless of how she performs.
Parents often ask about giving gifts to encourage their children to do well. Motivational psychology experts have advised, however, that this is the wrong tactic if you want your children to take responsibility for their own learning.
In an interview with The Sunday Times a few years ago, Dr Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester in the United States, noted that should a parent say “I will give you this if you achieve all As”, the child will likely do it for that reward. Subsequently, the child will think that the only reason to learn is to get a reward.
This makes learning the parent’s responsibility, as he has to monitor the child, instead of the child assimilating and internalising the value of learning and hard work.
It would be better to suggest celebrating good results over a meal at the child’s favourite restaurant.
And what if a child does not deliver straight As? Dr Ryan advises parents to acknowledge that not everyone can be at the very top, and to continue supporting their child.
Research has shown that success in life is more likely related to feeling a sense of confidence and security that comes from parents who support their child through successes and setbacks, rather than just doing well in examinations.
Sandra Davie, senior education correspondent for The Straits Times, answered this question. A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Photo: The Straits Times)