Now that the exams are approaching, your child will start to think about the academic challenge that lies ahead. While there are some kids who stroll through school exams without a flicker of anxiety, there are others who work themselves into an emotional frenzy.
The problem is when a child gets anxious about exams, his nervousness actually inhibits clear thought processes and makes him less effectively – in other words, his worry may actually cause him to perform poorly! That’s why a positive approach and proper preparation is so important.
You’ll be fine
You can help your child develop a more positive attitude towards exams by giving him lots of reassurance. Boost his confidence by pointing out how much he has achieved at school already. Go over his previous class assignments with him, showing how well he managed to complete them. Explain that he will probably produce a similarly high standard of work.
Second, try to help him develop a less intense perspective. After all, it’s not as if his entire education or his future will be affected by one exam at this age. Naturally, he wants to gain a high score and, naturally, you want him to achieve a satisfactory grade, too. But he needs to realise that what he faces is an exam – and nothing more.
And, lastly, explain the difference between effort and achievement. As long as he prepares well, then you will still be pleased, even if the actual result is less than what he wanted. The fact that he tries hard and has an optimistic attitude is very important.
The next stage is to help him prepare for the forthcoming exam. Here are some suggestions:
• Set a schedule The key to success lies in having a proper revision schedule. From your child’s point of view, the amount of work involved may seem huge, too much for him to complete in time. Instead of leaving everything till the night before, he should plan to study every night from now until the day of the exam.
• Limit the study period Your child also needs to spread the preparation workload carefully. There is no point in working several hours each night without a break – he’ll struggle to absorb the learning material if he pushes himself too hard. At this age, the most a pupil should study at home without having a snack or a short break for a few minutes is around one hour.
• Have realistic aims Perhaps he does want to top of his class – and perhaps you would like him to be there, too. But he needs to remember that only one child is at the top, though there can still be plenty of pupils with excellent grades. So he doesn’t need to be the best; he only needs to be satisfied that the exam score reflects his true potential.
• Follow a sensible routine Children at this age like to make the most of every moment; sensible sleeping, eating and study routines don’t particularly appeal to them! So, explain to yours that if he follows a good routine – containing study, eating, sleeping and leisure breaks – in the run-up to the exam, this will greatly increase his chances of educational success.
All these measures boost his confidence and, at the same time, reduce his anxiety, resulting in an improved performance. And having coped more effectively on this occasion without letting his nerves get the better of him, he is more equipped to meet the challenge of an exam the next time round.