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How can we help our kids through exam stress?

It’s that time of the year again….test and exams



In last week’s blog I point out the correlation between the increase of diagnosis of ADHD and the increase in SAT tests in schools. Well, our kids are currently in stress season with SAT tests, GCSE’s, A ‘levels and end of course exams.

For the first time I am seeing the process from three different sides: a parent, a coach with students doing exams and a lecturer with students doing GSCE’s and end of course exams. It is scary to see the range of support and strategies that children have to organise their time and planning. Some have superb plans designed by schools, other get no help or support beyond lessons.

As a parent I believe we should support our children in a positive and pro-active way. That should include having time-outs every hour and having time to relax and kick back. Today I humbly offer you my top tips to help your child revise:

1. Not all children learn or revise the same

Some like to sit at a desk and study , I use to like to walk around and pace, some like to record stuff and listen to it others use BBC bite size or you tube. Talk to your child about what works-if they are on the internet it doesn’t mean they are not working.

2. Help to find the right environment for your child to revise in.

NOT in front of the TV. NOT listening to the radio. Music can sometimes be OK, but you need to find the right kind. It’s got to be something that’s just there in the background that you’re not thinking about at all. Music without singing is better as your child won’t be tempted to dance around their bedroom like a big fool

3. Get them  drinks and snacks and make them have a short break every hour

The idea is that they don’t take breaks every 10mins and snack and fluids help keep them fueled and hydrated which helps study and concentration. Also it means they don’t make excuses to stop every 10 minutes…

4. If they get stuck on something get them to try reading difficult bits in funny accents

This is about creating memory hooks, experiences that can recall through different stimuli— Australian or Indian are particularly good. Make it fun and exaggerated and the hooks go in.

5. Get your child to stick revision notes all around your house

This will help in the exam as they will think — “…. linear equations, they were on the hall mirror…”

6. Get involved and help to test them

Helping test knowledge can be very supportive but also can become a negative if you start pestering or checking up, the key is to do it subtly! Offer and step back, it can also be helping recall facts or ask them to apply what they have revised. In education it is part of Blooms Taxonomy of learning, if they can recall facts they can start to use them, e.g. if they are going into an English exam about adjectives ask them to describe things to you, with science ask how a law or principle can be used and applied in real life.

7. Time out and other activities

Physical exercise helps sleep and helps study, being stuck in one place revising for a few days can be stressful. If your child has an activity they do like a sort they will have to cut down to get revision in but talk with the coach and see which sessions are best for them to go to. I have had students who want to revise for exams but are in teams reaching the finals of football seasons and being pushed to train or compete when they should be revising, and others who have stopped exercise to revise, – they need, in my opinion, to have a balance – a daily walk or bike ride can be enough for some. However, spending every night out dancing at the local youth club isn’t always the best way to revise.

8. Remember to praise effort not outcome

I continually keep saying about praising effort not just success …use treats and rewards to help motivate and support them.

This isn’t and extensive list, but I have found they help… Good luck and remember it doesn’t matter how well your child does, show them love and support, if they don’t do well don’t let your disappointment became a pressure for them to deal with.

Till next week,




The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of

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