7+ 8+11+13+…help your child to pass exams

Like it or not, there is a continuous stream of children all over the UK heading towards life influencing exams. It is the system we currently have and no matter what we may think of it, until it changes or you decide to home educate, I believe we need to work to achieve the best we can for the children within the limitations set and with the least amount of stress! Whenever the exams are, be it the autumn term, the spring term or the summer term, this year, next year or the year after, the stress associated with them is felt by parents a long time before and gradually intensifies the closer your child gets. It is not an easy process for anyone and as with all schooling, I’m sorry to say that many children feel it is being ‘done’ to them and become more of a victim of the system than a master of it. After many years of guiding children and their parents through this process, I have discovered we can minimise and manage the panic with a few simple but vital steps which help to engage and empower your child in their learning.

-Explain to your child that school does not – and is not meant to – teach them everything they need to know about life. It is there to teach them what they need to know to be independent and able to look after themselves in the world we inhabit. I have found that children, from 6 years on, can understand and love to know about the ‘bigger picture’ which engages them and helps them understand the process.

-Explain that it is the teacher’s job to teach and their (your child’s) job to learn. Check that they understand all that is involved in their side of the deal i.e. listening in class, concentration, organisation, taking responsibility, homework etc.. These are the areas where children need the greatest support. (If in doubt, Lessons Alive can help).

-Let your child know that their teacher ‘has a big book’ (or equivalent!) that tells them what they need to teach each year depending on the age of the class and that all children all over the country who are the same age as them, will be learning the same things (this places it all in context, which the children find reassuring).

-Let them know that the exams are testing what they know from what they have been taught; not who they are (very important!! this gives some protection to self esteem and confidence).

-Remind your child that as long as they are polite it is part of their teacher’s job to help them when they are struggling with something in school, but it is part of their job (your child) to tell the teacher if they are stuck!!

-They also need to know that if they ask for help and it is not forthcoming (for whatever reason), that they can talk to you about it and get help from you to deal with it (one 9 year old girl I was talking to said mum couldn’t help because she was at work all day…..try to see it through their eyes!)

If you can engage your child in the learning process by explaining it in this way, it will de-personalise it so they feel they are more in control which in turn will pay huge dividends in the run up to any of the exams they might sit as they go through school. They will be better equipped to be ‘present’ in the process and not a victim of it.

This blog was first posted: here

If you need any assistance or advice preparing children for exams or teaching them vital learning skills, get in touch with Gail Hugman, the Learning Mentor.

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