• This Surrey Mummy

Helping Your Child Prepare For Exams...

So, after three glorious weeks off tomorrow is the start of a new term. The Summer term - the final term of this school year!

In a family where if you don't or have not worked in education you're in the minority it's at this time of year when you know that exams are coming.

For me I know when exam time looms as the postman starts to deliver packages of coursework ready to be marked and where I say goodby to my dining table for the next 6-7 weeks as Webbo trawls through the GCSE and A level papers.

There has been much debate in the press about the numbers of exams children take even from such a young age but at the moment whether we love (er...who loves exams) or loathe them they are here to stay and one thing we can do is help to prepare our children for them.

There are many ways in which you can help your child get their head in gear for exams whether they be in school, external entrance tests or public exams and it's where your role at home really steps up and your support becomes even more paramount.

As parents, carers, guardians, you are going to be the rock of support during revision and during the stressful exam time. One of the key things is to try and keep the home environment as calm, happy and pleasant as possible and where you can try to be at home as possible so that you can just be there to share a quick chat and a cuppa when they just need a break.

One of the main things to assess first hand as a parent is to try and find out what type of learner your child is. Are they like sponges and just take on information or are they more of a hands on learner? By establishing what type of learner your child is you are able to offer assistance and relate to them during their revision time.

There are three types of learner and you'll likely fall in to one of those categories.

Kinesetic, auditory and visual.

Kinesetic learners

Is your child a natural at sport or a great dancer? Chances are they are a kinesetic learner. Children who are kinesetic learners usually have a strong sense of balance, and they learn best by touching or doing things themselves, ie hands on and they may count with their fingers. 

  • Can be described as a fidgeter

  • Loves hands on playing

  • Enjoys writing and writing exercises

  • Was an early bloomer often crawling, walking and sitting early

  • Sharp hand-eye coordination

Auditory learners These types of learners love sound and may have a passion for music, singing or expressing themselves through sound. These learners are good listeners and have good verbal strengths and can follow verbal instructions well. 

  • Aptitude in music, instruments, or vocal ability

  • Sings along and sings as she plays

  • Strong verbal ability, especially through repetition of words or phrases she’s heard before

  • Listens well and is able to follow oral direction

  • Loves talking (perhaps too much some times!)

  • Sharp hearing

  • Perks up when they hear noise or conversation

Visual learners Is your child a keen drawer, or drawn to art? Chances are she's a visual learner. Visual learners are drawn to books with photos and can often take on information from books well. Visual learners often have vivid memories and have the ability to remember information that we may have even forgotten!

  • A vivid imagination - is able to be creative in their stories

  • Keen interest in arts and crafts

  • A great memory for remembering things they have seen 

  • Good sense of direction (handy when map reading!)

  • A love for reading and books

  • Recognition of people, faces, and places

Being able to assess what type of learner your child is will make it easier to relate to their revision. For example a child who is a kinsetic learner won't benefit from staring at a book for hours on end.  Secondly, when preparing for exams, both you and your child must establish realistic targets. The word ‘realistic’ is KEY here. Let's be honest, whilst we all want our children to do well and be the best they can, but do we as parents have expectations so high that our child is likely to fail in your eyes before they have even started? Being realistic to your childs learning abilities will prepare both of you for the end outcome.  Once realistic targets have been agreed then you can move on to how your child can achieve these with minimal stress and anxiety, this may be with a timetable or at least a flexible schedule enabling them to cover the topics whilst at the same time allowing sufficient downtime.  Whilst some children may benefit from studying on their own (as they get older this usually becomes more the case) but in younger children having you on hand can be massively beneficial.  Thirdly, it is key that as a parent we don't allow our child to get caught up in the stress and angst of these exams and below are a few ways in which we can help. 

• REST and SLEEP - Make sure your child is getting lots. 

• Prepare a timetable that allows concentrated study time and downtime. 

• Ensure that all subjects are divided proportionally, more time spent on trickier more challenging subjects for example.

• Practice papers. With the internet now it's so easy to print off old papers so timed preparation exams or mock exams are good at putting into practice what they have been revising.

• TIME OFF! Make sure your child’s time off is exactly that – time spent away from books and papers, no one wants their child to burn out or peak too early either! 

• MORE TEA? Keep them fuelled with their favourite snacks - we all work better and more productive when we have full bellies. 

And finally, try not to stress yourself. As parents we have this marvellous ability to churn up a range of emotions, "oh if only I could take the exam for the" for example, well we can't, so the next best thing is to just be there, support them if it's gone well, support them if the exam did not go to plan but all importantly just be there for them. 

As a school matron I am going to be stocking up on tea, biscuits and little goodies to keep the boys in my house going during this term and good luck if your child has got exams, it's a stressful time for all involved but they will be over before they and you know it!

Nathalie x