Wherever you are in the world, the pressure of global competition can be tough for students. Help your kids manage their stress and achieve exam success with these six top tips.
1. Make it fun
Let's face it; exams are probably amongst the most difficult moments of any school day. But don't let nerves overwhelm your child. Remember, kids learn best when they are having fun and enjoying themselves.
Help them to learn dates or places by making up a tune or a rhyme. They will be able to easily recall this at exam time. Years later they will still be able to recite the highest mountains in Asia in order of size. Or even quote a host of historical landmarks!
Little ones love to play games. Make playtime work for both of you by helping your child create stories and games. For more inspiration, take a look at forums such as Kiasu Parents, creative workshops or fun learning apps such as Playmoolah. It's much easier to recall images than text. Encourage your child to assign funny pictures to pieces of information – for example, they could give each element in the periodic table a relatable image: a 'happy' face for H Hydrogen. You could also host a TV show-style revision quiz, asking questions from various subjects. Zammer, a competitive revision app that covers maths and computing allows students to play solo or challenge a friend to exam-based games. (Available on iTunes.) The important thing is that your child feels engaged and has fun; it makes the learning process both easier and more effective.
2. Plan for success together
"One should spend time planning for the future," says Li Ka-shing. And we can't help but agree with Asia's richest man – especially when it comes to passing exams. Help your child do well by working with them to create a revision and study plan.
To help them with this, simply list their exam subjects and work out a revision timetable for each. The Pocket Schedule Free app (Available on iTunes) is a useful app that allows you to create schedules, checklists and revision timetables.
Remember to involve your child. This will make them feel in control and give them a sense of ownership in the process.
3. Give them the tools to win
Rare is the teenager with a tidy room – and kids of all ages tend to have an amazing ability to create mess out of order. If your child is studying at home, help them to create a tidy study area. Check that your child has the necessary books, materials and stationery they need. Work with them to condense their notes onto postcards or post-it notes and put them around the house to act as revision prompts.
4. Don't compare, be calm
It might create panic when you hear that your kid's brainy classmate has already revised a topic half-a-dozen times. But your child will generally study at a method and pace that works best for them, so stay calm. It's easy to compare – "You know ah, the Aunty's son scored full marks in his maths test" – but it's not very reassuring for your child. Revising requires a lot of concentration so try and make home life as calm and pleasant as possible. Remind other family members – especially siblings – to be extra respectful of the need for peace and quiet around the house.
5. Study and exercise is an exam-busting combination
Your child is going to spend more time studying indoors than usual, but that doesn't mean they should sacrifice all sports and exercise. Students are likely to be more stressed around exam time. Getting stressed increases the likelihood of falling sick but keeping active boosts physical health and mental wellbeing. This enhances the body's ability to fight off infections.
A brisk 15-minute walk around the neighbourhood will help to clear the mind and relieve tension. But it's a short enough break to ensure your child won't be too far from their books or get distracted by friends.
6. Eat your way to good grades
Arnold Schwarzenegger says the mind is more important than the body – and who are we to argue with Arnie? Stress can result in children getting their energy boost from sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks. While this results in a short-term rush, it's followed by a slump and fatigue, which is not great for revision success. Try and make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks at home – fruit like blueberries or strawberries are ideal. They are both high in vitamins and comparatively low in sugar. Vegetables like carrots or celery (and even unsalted nuts) are healthy options with a satisfying crunch.
Although fast food is convenient, try and encourage your child to carry their own snacks when they are away from home. If that's not possible have a chat with them about the healthiest option when hunger strikes away from home. Convenience snacks are very salty, which adds to hypertension and increases stress. Try and make sure everyone sits down for a family meal in the evening, as it's important that your child gets a break from revising.
Equally important is making sure your child is prepared on the day of the exam. Make sure they get a good night's sleep and have a good, healthy breakfast to give them the best chance possible of doing well in their exams.
Exams might be tough, but the feeling when you walk out and know that you've done the best you can is priceless! We wish everyone who's sitting them, and their parents, the best of luck.
Want to make sure that your kids have something that’s healthy to eat, but easy to make? Try our recipes for honey miso salmon or grilled lotus leaf chicken.