Helping your child prepare for an exam is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a parent.
It is also one of the most difficult.
Children are easily distracted. For them there are more important things to do than study especially after being in school more than half the day. Some children also have poor short- term memory. They easily forget how distressed they felt after getting their last report card or test results.
It may be difficult but certainly not impossible. Here are five ways from MarkitUP to help your kid study for an exam:
- Keep them focused on the task at hand
Preparing a child for an exam actually starts the day before.
You have to sit your child down and remind them of the importance of getting high scores in the exams. Let them understand that thinking about “passing” will not get the job done. They have to push themselves to excel and that the exam will be their best chance to lift up their grades.
Use visualization techniques; ask your child to close his eyes and imagine how the study sessions would be like. Ask him to visualize the consequences of a good study session versus a bad study session.
Create imagery. Allow him to visualize the feelings of struggle during the test; of telling himself, “I should have studied harder!” Then let him imagine the feeling of entering the classroom to get his report card; the feelings of fear and dread.
If these don’t get him psyched to study, nothing else will!
- Organize all the study materials
Effective study is all about making sure every single second is not wasted. Time is an important variable in exam preparation.
Before the study session begins, make sure all study and reference materials are available and within reach. Looking for required readings and notes not only waste time but add to the stress factor.
A child’s energy must be centralized and focused only on one purpose: study!
- Remove all distractions
“I’m hungry”….. “I’m thirsty”….. “I have to go to the bathroom”….. “I have to make a phone call”……
Do these all sound familiar? They should be because we all said it when we used to study ourselves!
While it may have been true that we were hungry, thirsty, had to go to the bathroom or had a schedule to make a phone call, the truth is we were just delaying the inevitable.
Getting a child to start studying is like pushing a car up a steep hill. You have to remove all possible distractions. Here’s a routine you may wish to follow:
- Make sure he has eaten.
- Have him take a quick shower.
- Allow a quick 5 minute phone call.
- Have snacks and water within reach.
- The final bathroom break is shortly before the study session starts.
Then confiscate the mobile phone and advise the household to respect his study period.
- Utilize “Focus Blocks”
The worst thing you can do is to force your child to study when he is past capacity. Some parents think the child could be “faking it” but why take the chance? Pushing the child to study beyond his capacity results in diminishing returns.
Instead of second guessing your child’s motives, utilize focus blocks. A focus block is a period which covers the maximum amount of time a child can maintain 100% concentration. This is followed by a period of rest equivalent to 10-15% of the total focus block.
For example, you child can maintain 100% for one hour give him 10 minutes rest period after the focus block. He can do what he wants during the 10 minute break; eat, drink, nap or check his phone for messages.
The focus block allows the child to work within capacity without burning him out. The rest period allows him to recover and prepare his mind for the next focus bock. It is a good way to transition from one subject to the next.
- Create a feedback loop
How can you be sure that your child has absorbed the lesson? The best solution is to ask him to feed back the lesson to you.
Feedback is a powerful tool for comprehension because it forces the child to articulate the ideas in his head. It will activate areas of his brain that he did not utilize during study.
In effect, feedback becomes role- reversal; he is the teacher and you are the student. If you believe you learned from his way of instruction then it would be safe to assume he understands the subject.
Getting a child to study for an exam is like coaching him to excel in sports. Both are forms of competition but in different battlegrounds. You have to make sure they are well- prepared in every aspect and this requires patience, strategy and meticulous execution.
It will not be easy most of the time. But with consistency, not only will you extract best performances. You will indoctrinate in him the values of discipline, commitment and focus; values that will carry him to success the rest of his life.