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For parents, having a child study for exams can be a difficult thing to face – what can I do to help? How can I support them? Are they prepared? At Yooni, we believe a parent’s role is very important in a young person’s journey to their dream college course. Whether it’s the Junior or Leaving Cert, to Christmas and Easter exams, to college assignments and more, here are 5 ways you can help your child through it all.
As Yooni have said before, students learn in many different ways, and parents and guardians can be massive supports in how students actually study for their exams. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know everything (or anything) about the subject to be of help.
Many students prefer answering out loud to test their knowledge, so it can be just as easy as asking questions and listening. Use exam papers or the textbook for clues on what exactly to ask and remember you are not trying to catch them out, but rather giving them an opportunity to recount all the information they know. Ask them to recite quotes of poetry or an essay and check they are correct. ‘Fill in the blanks’ works well too.
After they’ve studied a topic you can help them assess how well it went; draw a mind-map together - ‘I don’t know very much about ____, can you write down everything you know about it for me?’ Practicing exam technique, such as time management, is hugely important and applicable to every exam. Have your child get through each set of work using a timer, so they become more aware of how long they’re spending on questions.
During exams, it can be very easy for a student to be overwhelmed and forget simple things like when and where the actual exam will take place! Have a timetable of the exams and highlight which ones your child is taking so you have an idea of what their schedule will look like. Remind your child to bring any equipment they might need for the exam, for e.g. a calculator, ruler, maths set.
The same can be applied for assignments – if you know roughly when the deadline for an assignment is, you can do wonders in making sure your child stays focused on completing it. Nothing patronising, but simply asking a question like ‘How are you getting on with it? Do you want me to read over it?’ can help the student feel confident over their work and finish in a timely manner.
Listen to how each exam or assignment went afterwards, but ensure your child is also focused on looking ahead…to the next one! It can be easy for students to get wrapped up on reliving their mistakes and obsess about how wrong it all went, when in reality we perform much better than anxiety lets on.
Sometimes all it takes is for them to vent out loud, to be able to move on. And sometimes the exam genuinely does go wrong, and they might be upset. It’s important they can talk about it with you, and feel listened to. But at the same time, try and refocus them with positive affirmation and to keep optimistic:
· Can you tell me what went well today?
· Did you learn any technique for the next exam?
· When is the next assignment due? Do you have any feedback from this one to learn from?
You might think your child is too old for rewards, but short-term ones can be a great motivator when studying. After all, spending endless hours staring at textbooks is not exactly that fun, and if the student is losing steam, not much learning is happening. Reward your child with something small after a set number of questions or time spent studying.
Any incentive like some TV time, meeting up with their friends, going to town for lunch or even a walk in the evening can have a huge benefit in giving their mind time to recharge. Rewards aren’t wasting time; they make time spent studying more worthwhile and productive.
During exams or assignments, students might forgo healthy food and sleep for cramming and caffeinated energy drinks. And sometimes parents are led to believe this ‘is the order of things’ and that everyone goes through this. Not so. It’s important at this time to make sure that your child: - has a good night’s sleep, instead of wanting to cram all night.
A rested brain will be more effective studying or taking the exam than an exhausted one. - has a balanced diet. The old saying ‘You are what you eat’ rings true here. It’s important to keep the mind active with nutritious food and to keep hydrated. Avoid junk food and energy drinks. They are not quick fixes to help. - Keep calm and carry on – it’s important that during this time you don’t stress yourself out either!
As this can have a knock-on effect. Especially if your child is away at college for exams, and you don’t know how it’s going every day. Lead by example with a calm, confident attitude.
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