Exams! The mere word is enough to give most kids and their parents the heebeegeebees. Parents want their kids to do well and kids just want to get to the holidays after. But did you know that you play a far more important role in your child's test results than her school does? A 2012 research published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility showed that kids of parents who were involved in their kids' academic lives and have a healthy attitude towards exams and results were much more likely to do well in exams than kids whose parents weren't very involved in their studies. In fact, the difference in their performance was so marked that further research found that even when these kids attended weaker schools, they fared better than kids of less involved parents from really good schools. So you see what a difference your attitude can make to your child's performance at school? Here are 5 ways to help you develop the right attitude before your kids' exams to help them keep the nerves in control and actually enjoy the process of their education. Exams, after all, must simply be about healthy competition.
1. Avoid bribing for a great performance: Most parents fall for the incentive trap. It's understandable to assume that if you set a target for your child and promise to reward her with the iPad if she meets it, she might be encouraged to do better. But this is only likely to add to her performance stress; while taking away the mind space meant for truly understanding the concepts she's studying. You just need to gently encourage your child to perform her best, so that she doesn't feel a sense of failure if she doesn't meet your set targets.
2. Be positive: Right before the exams your child needs to hear positive encouragement. Not just in words, in actions, too. Hovering over her, and testing and retesting her on a subject is only going to send mixed signals. Instead provide gentle encouragement from time to time and stay close enough so that she can reach out for help when needed but has the space and confidence to study well on her own too.
3. Monitor your child's health: During exams, typically a child sleeps lesser than usual and mealtimes might be irregular as well. Ensure that you create an eating schedule, or leave small healthy snacks at her study table so she can munch on them while she is studying. Also try and suggest a nap during the day so that she can catch on lost sleep when she is staying up late or waking up early to study.
4. Help create a timetable: Just like you work better with a to-do list, your child too needs a structure to prepare for her exam. The best way to create a timetable or a schedule is to discuss it with your child. Involving her in the process will ensure that she sticks to it more willingly. This will also help you ensure that she isn't going overboard with the studies due to the stress. Make sure you set aside time for an activity that relaxes her.
5. Help build confidence: Often, children get overwhelmed with the amount of studying and revision required before exams. Confidence-building at these times can shape your child's attitude towards education and learning. Talk about your times as a student and the things you found difficult and how you finally managed eventually. Assure her that it is okay not to always get things right in the first go. The important thing is not to give up on something due to the fear of failure.
The most important thing to remember and convey to your child is that it is the knowledge that matters in the longer run, not the marks she scores. This way, she is likely to be more focused on acquiring knowledge, which is of far greater value, rather than joining a mindless race for higher marks.