Help your child ace their exams with these study tips!
Parents play a crucial role in their children’s exam preparation. Studies show that children who receive support at home are better behaved in school, show greater enthusiasm for learning, and are more likely to pass their exams.
Preparing for exams is stressful for young students. They might not know where to start with revising or feel so overwhelmed that they opt not to study at all. Core subjects like Maths and English can cause major anxiety.
Such anxieties might be more pronounced if your child has a neurodivergent condition such as autism, ADHD or ADD, or a learning difficulty.
Whilst you can’t sit their test for them, as a parent, you can help ease the stress of studying—and even make it enjoyable!
But what if you’ve never sat an exam? Or prepared for a test? Perhaps your child is already demotivated because they feel behind in their classwork. Figuring out the best way to support your child at exam time might leave you feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Luckily, by setting clear expectations, creating consistent routines and schedules, and fostering good study habits, parents can provide their children with the tools they need to succeed.
How can I help my child with exam preparation?
It’s never too late to implement an effective study strategy! Read on for study tips that will make your child’s exam preparation easier.
1. Set a consistent study routine
If you pay attention to one tip, it’s this one!
Whether your child is neurodiverse or not, consistent routines provide a range of benefits that support a child’s learning.
- Help with understanding and managing time,
- Reduce anxiety by providing a pattern and consistency,
- Allow a feeling of satisfaction when the routine is complete,
- Prevent tiredness (good routines allow for breaks and let a child study when they’re most focussed)
Allocate a consistent study slot each day or week. With time, studying will become an expected part of the child’s routine. When children know what to expect their concentration improves and they’re less resistant to study.
- Set your child’s study slot for the end of the school day. Research shows that children study best immediately after school, when their concentration and energy levels are still high. As a bonus they get the evening free!
2. Create a motivating study space
A well-lit, comfortable desk, with enough space, and in quiet part of the home helps students stay focused. Stock your child’s workspace with bright post-it notes, colourful pens, and handy stationery to inspire them to study.
- Let your child take pride in their study space by allowing them to decorate it with inspiring colours or posters. Studies show that study environment can significantly impact a child’s learning. A space like our brand new holistic learning space at LS Tuition is the perfect environment to encourage learning and inspiration. It should spark a joy to learn, and not feel like a bland and uninspired space.
3. Help organise their workload and improve time-management skills
Studying multiple subjects can feel overwhelming. Make the task less daunting by encouraging your child to plan their study time and prioritise which subjects are most important. How many exams are they sitting? Do they require the same amount of revision for each?
Show them how to break large tasks into smaller ones. Focussing on one or two little tasks at a time will contribute to their bigger goals without stressing them out. Come exam day, they’ll feel prepared and confident.
- Buy a wall planner and stickers to decorate the wall next to your child’s desk as a visual motivator.
4. Help your child learn basic note-taking skills
Note-taking skills are an effective way to absorb information. Good notes help children easily review and reference notes while studying.
Help your child organise their notes by showing them how to use headings, bullet points, and abbreviations. If your child is a visual learner, they might find colour-coding their notes helpful.
It’s important to find an organisational system that works for your child as an individual, because piles of notes can quickly get overwhelming and reduce a child’s motivation to study.
- Watch CBBC’S Newsround together to practice taking notes. Afterwards, discuss the news segment based on your child’s notes. This exercise is a fun and relaxed way to practice note-taking skills like abbreviations and organising information into bullet points and headings.
5. Teach them research skills
Research is an essential skill. It helps children better understand the world they live in, effectively absorb information, analyse data, and problem-solve.
Effective research requires an engaging topic. Perhaps your child is fascinated by space or dinosaurs? Let them use a laptop to research facts relating to their chosen topic using the note-taking skills learned in the step above.
With a wealth of information at their fingertips children might quickly get bogged down. Help them by clarifying key search terms, fact-checking, and skim-reading. Ensure they’re using up-to-date information by helping them to assess whether a source is reliable or unreliable.
Remember to set parental controls on your laptop!
- For very young students, a spider diagram provides a bridge to advanced notetaking skills like headings, sub-headings, and bullet points.#
6. Eliminate distractions
Teach your child to turn off all unnecessary devices before studying. Children are hard to separate from their phones, but addictive apps and mindless scrolling can wreak havoc on concentration. Not to mention the lure of computer games!
Scrolling while studying is a form of multi-tasking. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking distracts from the completion of tasks. Encourage your child to study one subject for a set period before moving on to the next.
Having a learning space like the one provided at LS Tuition is the perfect area for study. There are minimal distractions and the focus is on learning in a fun and inspiring manner that encourages children to want to learn and feel as though they are in a safe space to do so.
- Get a good night’s sleep! Good sleep hygiene will help your child stay focused. A study session won’t be effective if they fall asleep.
7. Teach your child to ask for help
Does your child struggle to speak up when they’re stuck? Sometimes students fall behind because they feel uncomfortable asking for help, and then when exam time comes, they feel like there’s a mountain of learning to climb.
Building working relationships with those around us and knowing how to ask for and receive support is a fundamental part of human development.
One of the best ways you can help your child to pass their exams is by teaching them that it’s ok to ask for help.
- Find them a study group or friend to revise with. Sometimes children find it easier to ask their peers for help than an adult.
8. Provide consistent praise and feedback
All children benefit from positive praise, especially if they’ve lacked the motivation to study in the past. Children are more likely to repeat behaviour that earns praise or encouragement.
It’s important to praise effort over achievement (though reaching goals should be celebrated too!).
Praising a child’s effort e.g. “You’ve worked on your maths homework today, well done!” encourages children to keep trying. This helps them to be more resilient when facing challenges, such as a subject they find more challenging.
Putting effort into trying on their best, instead of worrying about the outcome, will also help them feel less anxious on exam day.
- Implement a rewards system to reinforce positive encouragement. For example, if they stick to their homework schedule all week, let them choose what’s for dinner on Friday.
Study tips for ADHD
Even with the above strategies in place, your child might still find preparing for exams hard.
Children with ADHD, Maths anxiety, or additional support needs can find exam season particularly challenging.
Read on for study tips that cater to your child’s additional support needs.
Best study tips for ADHD and neurodivergent students
The best way to help neurodivergent students prepare for exams is to focus on
- a learning style that suits them
Time is key to study success. Neurodiverse children often struggle to plan their study time. Encourage them to start early so they can discover learning gaps. Starting early will help them feel more prepared and less panicked overall.
Strategy is equally important. A plan of how, when, and where your child will study is crucial for motivation, time management, and effective study sessions.
Support your child by encouraging them to stick to their study schedule – maintaining a routine will help them stay organised and prioritise their time effectively.
Because many neurodiverse students struggle with memory and overwhelm, breaking subjects down into smaller topics can make the process feel less daunting. A visual learner might find drawings or spider grams easier to understand.
Neurodivergent children may experience more anxiety relating to schoolwork. Past exam papers, sample questions, and mock tests are excellent tools in any exam preparation strategy. Past papers help children practice exam content in a low-pressure, home environment. Familiarity with the content and structure of an exam will help your child feel more prepared for the real exam.
Positive mindset is crucial! Encourage your child and praise their hard work. Acknowledge that this is a stressful time for them, ensure their progress is rewarded and that they take breaks when they need to.
What are effective study strategies for ADHD children?
An effective study strategy for children with ADHD will prioritise consistent routine, regular breaks, reduce stress, and minimise distraction.
Study tips for students with ADHD
Study smarter, not harder!
Children with ADHD find it hard to concentrate for prolonged periods. It can help to schedule regular study breaks. Encourage them to set a timer and study for 20 minutes then take a 10 – 15 minute break.
Studies show that students with ADHD have poorer working memory than their peers. Working memory refers to the capacity to store and organise multiple pieces of information in one’s head for a short time to arrive at an answer.
Children with ADHD have difficulty mentally storing and sorting information. Compared to fellow students, they expend more effort trying to remember sequences or problem-solve in their heads.
A short break between study sessions helps their brain refocus and encourages information retention.
Study tips for dyslexic students
Studying can be stressful and confusing for a child with dyslexia. Many dyslexic students struggle with organisation, concentration, and short-term memory. If they fall behind at school due to a lack of support, they can develop low self-esteem and anxiety, particularly around reading and writing.
Read on for exam tips for dyslexic learners.
- As always, a consistent routine can help a child with dyslexia study. It’s important to let them choose which study methods work for them. For example, your child might prefer to ‘draw’ their notes instead of writing them.
- L-shaped cards can frame the part of the textbook your child needs to focus on. Cover the surrounding text and reveal one line at a time to help them process information more easily.
- Drawing, music, movement, flashcards, and other visual methods can also benefit dyslexic learners.
- Make the school aware of your child’s needs ahead of time. Find out how much time the exam takes and if your child will need extra hours. Knowing they have enough time to complete the exam will reduce stress levels.
How do I help a child with maths anxiety study?
Helping a child with Maths anxiety boils down to alleviating their fears. Maths is the notorious ‘scary subject’, and causes more anxiety than any other subject.
Negative stereotypes around maths might cause a child to panic if they don’t know the answer to a problem. Panic leads to poor performance, creating a vicious cycle that negatively affects a child’s self-esteem.
So, how can you help your child when the very thought of Maths makes them want to throw the textbook against the wall?
Practise Maths with your child little and often. 10 minutes per day is far superior to one long weekend of Maths study. Daily repetition supports long-term Maths retention.
Break Maths concepts into their smallest components to prevent overwhelm.
Make Maths fun. Using maths in practical, everyday situations can be a fun way to help your child engage with numbers. Try using maths while shopping or measuring ingredients in the kitchen.
It’s ok to not know the answer. Many children have a fear of ‘getting it wrong’ because they want to please their parents and teachers. If you teach your child not to fear mistakes, they’ll feel less pressure about getting an answer right.
Luckily, Maths anxiety can be overcome with patience and practise!
Sitting exams is never easy. Hopefully, these study tips help you in preparing your child for their exams. If they’ve followed a consistent study routine and avoided cramming last-minute, then your child should feel more confident about their test.
That said, here are three last-minute tips!
- Ensure they drink plenty water while studying,
- Avoid feeding them junk food as this will curb their energy levels. A healthy meal for breakfast on the day of their exam will provide a slow release of energy that will last them through the exam,
- Help them get a good night’s rest the night before their exams,
- Praise their effort, regardless of the outcome!