Exams are always stressful, but there's a world of fantastic tech and apps out there that can help you achieve the goals you want. Here are some of the best
My eldest child is nearly 11 and this week he’ll be experiencing exam conditions for the very first time as he tackles his SATS. Some children take exams in their stride, while others can struggle to stay calm and focussed.
As well as teaching my son some of my own calming techniques and tips, I’ve been exploring the world of technology to see what’s out there to help him through this tricky period in his education, as well as into secondary school and beyond. As it turns out, there’s a wealth of apps and gadgets that can help with exam prep, and best of all, they’re relevant to all of us!
Tip 1: Be prepared
Encourage and prepare kids for exams as early as you can. That means don’t wait for revision papers – go and get them, and find other helpful sources of information like websites to get prepared early. Here’s a great website for SATs prep.
Get them to do a bit each day. Little and often is key, and information is more likely to go in and stay in. If they’re still being set other tasks alongside revision, this method makes it much easier to cope with. Subliminal notes are a great way of doing this – identify the things they’re struggling to remember, and then get them to post them on notes around the house. The backs of doors are good for this, as is the fridge.
Tip 2: Get your beauty sleep
We all need a decent amount of sleep to function properly. On average, children between the ages of 6 and 13 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night, whilst 14-17 year olds need 8-10 hours.
Getting a good night’s sleep starts with turning off their electrical devices at a reasonable time before sleep – at least an hour before they go to bed. Screen time can have an unwanted negative impact on the quality of their sleep, so get them to get cosy with a good book instead!
Also, it’s best to get them to avoid eating too late, as the digestive process can interfere with their sleep cycle, causing them to wake up more often, and have a harder time going to sleep in the first place. Grab them a warm milk or hot chocolate instead.
Tip 3: Get moving!
Exercise is free, fun, good for you, and anyone can do it anywhere. More importantly for us here, it’s great for the brain too! Any form of exercise that gets your kids warmed up will promote the release of serotonin in the brain – an amazing chemical that makes them feel happy and more relaxed.
There are copious other reasons why we should all be getting our hearts pumping too. It improves concentration, boosts self-esteem, reduces risk of serious diseases, helps you sleep, and gives you more energy.
So, go for a walk or kick a football around with the kids, or go for a swim, do some skipping, jump on a trampoline – whatever you do, just get everyone moving!
Tip 4: Relax!
A good friend of mine, Rosie at Clara Rose Therapies, recently visited our school and talked to the children in year 6 about reflexology and how it can help them overcome nerves. The different areas on the feet are mirrored on the hands, so Rosie showed the children a few important pressure points, which are linked to the brain and solar plexus, and how gently massaging them can help you to feel calmer and more in control.
Often our brains are most efficient when we’re relaxed. Exams are stressful, but there are lots of ways to help control nerves, from mediation, to reading a good book, to trying Yoga or Pilates.
Tip 5: Eat healthy
I’m the world’s worst when it comes to resisting chocolate, and my children have certainly inherited that too! It’s worth eating in moderation though, as a healthy balanced diet increases productivity and improves memory – two very important things necessary when sitting exams.
Don’t forget to encourage them to make time for themselves. Book something exciting for them to look forward to for when they’ve finished revising or as a break in between. Take them to see a movie, go on a day-trip to the beach, or visit the zoo. Whatever you enjoy doing as a family arrange it and enjoy every minute. They deserve it!
And remember to tell them to stay positive. A positive attitude can increase their chances of doing well. If they can picture themselves sitting their exams and getting the grade they want it will give them a real boost.
The science of sleep: Check out our interview with Professor John Groeger, as he explores the effects digital technology can have on our sleep, and how to get a better night’s rest…
By Ellie Allen