Friday, July 22, 2011

Helping Your Child to Prepare for Exams

Exam week is coming up. I stumbled upon these photos of slides from my facebook album when I attended the Parent Engagement Session in February of this year and realized I haven't posted it here in my blog yet (that's few months of backlog again!).

Anyway, I hope it's not too late to share it with parents, and students, who are preparing for the upcoming exams.

Exams should not really be feared. It's just an exam anyway. But because of the grades that goes with taking the exam it now holds a sort of negative connotation. Above are some reasons why most of us (if not all of us) fear the exam monster.

But too much anxiety can adversely affect students, therefore, we need to help our children cope with their exam anxiety. How do we do this? Below are some suggestions given during the talk:

It's always better to have good time management. And I believe it's good to study lessons daily in preparation for the exam to avoid cramming. If the students know their routine, it would be easy for them to budget their time efficiently.

Having a space to study - own study table or study corner - somehow conditions the student (and his mind) for study time. This should be a place where he has his references at hand, all his study materials and stationery easily accessible.

As a mother, and a student before, this has proven to be somehow inevitable (for some). We study hard, we know all the topics and we've studied them, but somehow we still fall short. So what's the problem? We probably have not anticipated some of the questions given, or we have not studied the topic thoroughly. Not getting a perfect score is one thing, flunking is another. So how do the students who get perfect or close to perfect scores do it?

Having good study habits is probably the key (as proven by most students, I guess). Students are usually given the topics included in the exams. This is already an edge since they know well in advance what they need to learn. What they need to do next is to allot enough time BEFORE the exam week to learn them. Students should not wait for the very last minute before they start reading on the topics given to them.

When I was still in grade school and secondary school (which is a long time ago), I used to write a reviewer for every subject to help me remember the information. This was also because we cannot write on the books we have (I study in a public school and books were only handed over from one year to another). We also don't have enough materials like the variety of workbooks they have here in Singapore. One disadvantage of writing info down again (esp if there are a lot of topics to cover) is that it's time consuming and also tiring (unless a student loves to write).

I think this would be the biggest challenge, esp for some younger boys (based on experience, as well as other parents' experiences) who prefer to play around rather than study. The suggestions above would really be of help.

Different children have different ways of learning. I know this personally because I have 2 boys who are quite different in terms of learning methods. One is very studious and serious in doing his work, and prefers to sit down and finish all his work before he goes to play. The other one is more playful and prefers to have more breaks.

As for nagging, I guess some students work well if someone is pushing them to do work. But I think most would prefer a kinder approach. Students sometimes feel more stressed if parents nag them. 

Special mention to the students who need to wake up early because they are taking the school bus (at 6am!). This means they need to sleep latest by 9pm.

We all want our children to do well in school, but putting too much value on academic excellence sometimes tips off the balance between studying and playing. Children are children and they should have enough time to study and play. If we push our kids too far they will get stressed out. And I have seen a lot of cases here in Singapore where the stress has a very bad impact on the child health, both physical and mental.

As parents, and hearing a lot of news about stressed students in Singapore, we have to watch out for these stress indications before it's too late. Academic excellence is a great goal, but not at the expense of our children's health.

We can also have short breaks to play games with the kids to lighten their mood.

I couldn't agree more. If students are prepared they are more confident in taking the exams, so they become more relaxed.

I remember doing the last minute chatting with classmates when I was still studying. Sometimes it also helps because we get some information that we probably have missed out. But too much talk should be avoided.

I always remind my boys to pay attention to the instructions because even if they know the answers to the questions but they don't follow the proper way to answer them (like circling instead of coloring) then their answers will be marked wrong.

Instructions are there for students to follow. Pay attention to them and make sure to follow accordingly.

Expensive questions are those that are given more points compared to other questions (if I remember it right). Since these questions have higher marks, it's good to make sure they are being answered carefully and thought through before writing the final answer.

In Math, one of my son's teachers said they should always show the computations and models because these will be marked. It's also good if they can review or double check their answers for accuracy.

There are times when students, due to lack of time, cannot finish their exam. This is very unfortunate as the questions they have not done maybe the questions they know much of. To avoid such from happening, students should try to allot their time properly during exams going through the easy questions first, and answering the harder questions last, making sure there is enough time to pay attention to the harder questions.

Sometimes we parents are so focused on exam results that we forget to remind our kids that we still love them no matter what the results are. Yes, we do feel bad when they don't get good results, but that doesn't mean we will not love them. We should let them know that.

I believe giving words of encouragement and having confidence that our children will do well in their exams help a whole lot in their performance in exams. We should shower them with lots of positive words, and help them in preparing for their exams the best that we can, that they allow us to :)

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