How to Coach Your Child Through Exam Season
An editorial written by Annie Boate, a leading coaching in schools expert and author of her book “A Coaching Revolution” which is out now. She gives her 10 top tips for parents who want to help their children through the exam season.
Ask how they learn best Talk to them about how they’ve learnt something they’re good at and get them to identify what helped them to learn and remember it. Now ask them how they could use the same strategies to learn the new information. Remember we’re all unique, so don’t force YOUR best methods & techniques on them!
Help them make a weekly revision timetable Don’t just tell them to do it or leave them to get on with it and assume it’ll happen! The more they feel the timetable is ‘their baby’, the more likely they are to follow it. Make sure the timetable fits around their regular commitments so it’s not daunting and overwhelming for them. Otherwise it’ll be impossible for them to stick to it!
Break revision sessions into short slots The brain can only focus 100% for short bursts of time. A good guideline is to use the child’s age as the number of minutes for each timetabled revision slot. I recommend using a timer and make sure they stick to this!
Give them timed breaks This will allow their brain to recover before the next revision slot. I recommend a 5-minute break after each of the first two slots, then a longer break of around 15-20 minutes after every three slots. (Repeat this pattern throughout the whole revision session).
Recognise small steps forward Encourage your child to mark off each successfully completed revision slot (eg with a tick, sticker or stamp). Seeing their progress will motivate them and encourage them to keep going.
Acknowledge your child’s stress It’s easy to dismiss any doubts and fears when your child says things like “This is too much…”, “I can’t do this…”, “I’m going to fail”. Instead, try to validate their feelings. Rather than saying “Don’t be so silly…you’ll be fine!” etc, show them that you understand how they’re feeling. Reflect their emotions back to them by saying something like “So you’re feeling stressed – is that right?” Then follow it up with a solution-focused question such as “What could you do to feel less stressed?”
Build their confidence Attitudes are contagious so be positive, upbeat and let them know you believe 100% they can do it. Encourage your child to see exams as ‘an opportunity to show what they know and can do’ rather than a ‘threat’.
Help your child overcome obstacles If they’re struggling, ask what’s stopping them or getting in the way of their revision. Then ask how they could overcome it. Don’t provide the answers! It has to be THEIR solution. Otherwise they’re far less likely to take action! Remind them that their revision WILL make a difference – it’s NEVER too late!
Get your child to visualise success Help your child to imagine themselves successfully taking the exam. Ask them to talk you through their ‘mental video’ from entering the exam room to receiving their results. Keep repeating this process to ‘mentally rehearse’ and dramatically increase their chances of success.
For more information:
Annie’s book ” A Coaching Revolution” or more about Annie Boate, The World’s Leading Coaching in Schools Expert