5 ways to support your children through exams

As Sats and GCSEs get underway, here are five ways to help your children stay stress-free during exam season.

1. Talk about it

Reassure them that feeling anxious or nervous about exams is normal.

Thinking about what they do know, and all the studying they have done, should help them feel more confident about what’s coming.

Try to talk about each exam once it’s over, focusing on the parts that went well without dwelling on difficulties or things that can’t be changed.

Then encourage your child to look ahead and focus on the next test coming up.

2. Have a dry run

Practice the kind of activities that will happen on testing day, and show students the exam hall in advance so it’s a less scary place when the time comes.

Some schools also provide little extras to help give students a more positive experience.

In this short BBC Teach film secondary teacher Tom Knott explains how his school lets students take a cushion in with them when they sit their GCSE exams so they have a more comfortable time.

3. Paint a positive picture

There can be a great deal of pressure on children to do well in exams which can cause stress and anxiety.

Encourage them to visualise themselves going into an exam feeling confident and relaxed then coming away knowing they tried their best on the day.

The more detail they can visualise the better.

Visualisation is a technique used by many elite athletes to help improve self-confidence and performance at sporting events.

4. Put things in perspective

If children are worrying about exams, it can help to remind them it’s not the end of the world if they don’t do as well they’d hoped.

Exams are important, but they’re not the only way to a successful future.

Primary Teacher Alex Bramley says his school sends out a letter home to pupils and parents a week before SATS.

It includes a reminder that “The SATs do not assess all of what makes each of you special or unique. The people who create these tests and score them, they do not know each of you the way that we do. They do not know that some of you love to sing or draw. They've not seen your natural talent for dancing or playing a musical instrument.”

Watch the short film in full here.

5. Look after yourself

Young people pick up on stress from adults around them.

So if you’re feeling the pressure yourself try to keep it away from the children you’re supporting.

If you’re a teacher, check out the BBC Teach top tips to support you through exam season, with links to free expert help if you need it.

Five top tips to get you through exams
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Teacher tips on supporting students through exams
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Exams
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