In many schools in the UK, the SATs practice tests for year six students are already underway. Although the actual SATs tests are not taken until May many schools start early to help kids to get used to the tests and to work out what they need to work on to increase their grades. Unfortunately, the by-product of this preparation is actually increasing pressure and exam stress. Helping your primary school child deal with exam stress can be tricky but hopefully, this post will help you to help them prepare and cope with the stress of SATs and other school exams.
Let them know they can talk to you and that you take their worries seriously
Asking them how they are coping and if they need any support means that you are taking their worries seriously. A lot of children at this age have a real fear of failure and the pressure to be perfect and to get top marks in all subjects can be extreme. Ask them about their fears and worries, and help them put them into perspective. You have to be careful how you word this, telling them that the results of their exams don’t matter won’t have the desired effect as the school will be telling them otherwise. You can, however, help them to understand that if they don’t get the results they hoped for that it is not the end of the world.
Speak to their teacher and find out how they are preparing for the tests
Finding out how the school is preparing and how much schoolwork they will be doing towards the SATs will help you to support your child. It will also allow you to work out what is causing your child the most problems. The SATs tests focus on English and Mathematics, finding out where your child’s weakness lies will help you to support them. Take a look at this blog for some parent tips on supporting your Year 6 for SATS.
There are lots of tuition companies out there for you to choose from but we recommend Matr as their tutors are all maths experts trained to teach the KS2 National Curriculum. There’s nothing they don’t know about what’s going to come up in the SATs papers and how you can prepare for it. Try matr.org for general primary maths tuition or have a look at their SATs programme
Getting them ready for exam day
Teaching your child exam techniques can really help to reduce the stress they feel around taking a test. Key points to share are making sure that they’ve read the question properly, that they answer the questions they know they can get right first and come back to the others, and that they take time to check their paper. On the day of their exams help them to relax the night before, they need a good night’s sleep and a proper breakfast.
Help them to look after their mental health
We know that we can’t stop the pressure and stress that life throws at us but we can help our children to look after their mental health. Teaching them skills to cope will help them not only with exams but at other stressful times in their lives. Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword at the moment but it is really important. Teaching your children to replace negative thoughts with positive ones is an important step, turn “I can’t do this, it’s too hard” into “I am going to work at this so I understand it better” or “I am going to ask for help so I can do it”. The way your child thinks about problems will have a real impact on their mental health and they will take this from you so remember to be a glass half full person as this will rub off on them.
Build healthy habits
Exercise, a balanced diet, being hydrated and getting enough sleep will all make a big difference to your child’s mental and physical health. They will be able to concentrate more and will find it easier to control their emotions when they are well rested and not full of sugar.
For more information on helping your kids cope with the stress of exams visit the NHS website and to help your kids to look after their own happiness why not take a look at Create Your Own Happy a fantastic book aimed at kids written by Penny Alexander and Becky Goddard-Smith that my eldest daughter absolutely loves.
This post was created in collaboration with MATR.org an online tutoring programme.