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Helping your child prep for university exams

Whether your child will be at home while prepping for exams or calls you in a panic from school when attempts to study don’t go as planned, you can be a huge help in restoring their confidence and ensuring their preparedness.

Mother helping teen study

As a mother of two and an associate professor of special education at the College of Coastal Georgia, Dr. Claire Hughes Lynch at Professor Mother Blog knows how stressful exam time can be — both for kids and their parents. She shares her thoughts on how you can help your child successfully get through university exams without overcrowding them.

Teach them how to teach themselves

When your child was younger, their being prepared for math quizzes and spelling tests was your responsibility. But now that your child is older, “the key is not what you as a parent do, but what your child does,” explains Lynch. You can help your child develop test strategies and a reward system of their own as well as ensure they know how to self-advocate and speak to their professors if they have questions, but you can’t teach them the exam content or go to their professors to find out what they need to know. Your role now is to ensure that they develop the skills they require to teach themselves. Ultimately, as hard as it might be to accept, “you have done your job when your child doesn’t need you,” says Lynch.

Share the wisdom of making lists

Whether you’re heading to the grocery store, planning a dinner party or sorting through your weekly errands, you know just how helpful creating lists can be. So it only makes sense that you’d want your child to be able to master this useful skill as well. Lynch recommends teaching your child how to make lists of “what they have to do, what needs to be done first [and] what projects are due when.” With all the apps and computer programs available today, it’s easier than ever to make lists of what needs to get done when and to connect them to a calendar so students know exactly what’s ahead of them. Plus, your son or daughter will likely welcome the opportunity to play around with a new form of technology!

Check out these little ways to show your kids how important they are >>

Give them the feedback they need

You can offer kids encouragement and support in many ways, but some methods have been found to be more effective than others. Rather than offering a general “good job” or assuring your child they’ll do well “because they’re smart,” Lynch encourages emphasizing the amount of work and the type of work that leads to good results. By celebrating their hard work rather than their “innate smarts,” you assure them it’s about their developing effective strategies and making the effort, rather than their grades.

Help them develop anxiety-coping strategies

Think of all the methods you’ve developed over the years to cope with anxiety and stress. Breathing, focusing on the moment rather than on what is to come and knowing the stress will eventually pass can all help with negative feelings, explains Lynch. Teaching your child about these methods of stress management now will ensure they know how to cope with future exams and other life stresses years down the road. And whenever possible, make an effort to demonstrate these coping strategies in your own life. Although your words and tips will be of assistance, witnessing how you successfully handle high-stress situations will be more helpful than hearing it from a theoretical standpoint.

Keep it in perspectivebook

For many students, exams can feel like a life-or-death situation, and this kind of high-stakes mentality doesn’t making writing the test any easier. So rather than putting extra pressure on them to succeed, Lynch recommends reminding them that they are a good person and have your support no matter the outcome. When it comes down to it, “they don’t want you steering; they want you cheering,” she advises.

Show your love and support

When all is said and done, Lynch’s best piece of advice is to remember that kids are going to be faced with obstacles, and they are going to make mistakes, and that’s OK. As a parent, you can’t shield them from those challenges, and you can’t keep them safe from mistakes. All you can do is teach them how to learn from their mistakes and act as a rock of support when they need it. Ultimately when it comes to exam prep, Lynch suggests to “ask them to do their best, and love them no matter the results.”

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