How to cope with the pressure of exams

Sometimes education isn’t all plain sailing, is it? Sometimes children struggle to keep afloat at school. Sometimes children experience wave after wave of stress and pressure, making them feel like they are sinking under the weight…

Of course, a good many children soak up pressures, and thrive on challenge. But for those struggling with a specific subject, unable to keep up with their peers in class, or are still knocked by a negative experience at school, children can find exams hard to negotiate.

But it’s at home where parents see the true extent of this anxiety build-up. Homework battles, anxiety, negative self talk “I’m rubbish’, angry outbursts, withdrawal from activities, stomach aches/headaches… Such a worry, isn’t it?

That’s why we’re often approached here at Lemon Tree Tutors by parents who are at their wits end – desperately worried about their child’s future, looking for help on how to best support their child through the tsunami of emotion.

Since exams are here to stay – with testing at both primary and secondary level getting harder year in year out, and stiff 11+ exam competition – how can you help your child through the high seas?

Helpful advice on increasing your child's confidence

One of the best starting points is kindness. Gentle support always works better than confrontation.

Usually a child’s anger about school stems from insecurity. A sensitive child’s negativity about themsleves comes from low esteem.

Hence why we advise any parent supporting their child with 11+ exam entry, SATs or GCSE prep to try these ideas.

  1. Cherish your child’s strengths – both academically and non-curricular.
  2. Praise praise praise them for the smallest achievement to boost their sense of worth.
  3. Help them set realistic – achievable – academic goals to start with…
  4. Reassure them that academic achievement doesn’t define who they are.
  5. Chatting about school over pizza at the weekend could help diffuse an inflamed situation during the week. Once your child says something negative about a particular subject/lesson, you are closer to working out the problem.
  6. If a specific subject is the issue, break it down even more. Is it a problem in class? Is it a lack of understanding? When your child has homework in that subject, make time to sit with them while they are doing it. Be cheerful. ‘Let’s do the first question together. Bet you can teach me a thing or two!’
  7. If your child is prepping for entrance exams on top of schoolwork, build some fun downtime activities into their week as a reward. Take a trip to the beach at the weekend, or local play centre. Something active, something fun.
  8. If you have other children, try not to compare them with each other openly. ‘His brother is so much better at Maths than x’ could make your child feel even more of a let down. Words are powerful… Sometimes we don’t realise how much.
  9. If your child resists doing/talking about schoolwork with you – many parents tell us this happens – you’re not a failure. Some kids simply want their parents to be parents, and not teachers…
  10. Consider arranging tuition with a professional tutor who uses ‘tried and tested’ techniques to engage your child. Great tutors understand the psychology of teaching, and are skilled at drawing positives out the most reluctant child. So remember it’s not always about ability; sometimes it’s about teaching children to believe ‘I can do it!

When you need some support to prepare your child for an entrance exam, national exam at any level or simply to help your child overcome a learning hurdle, call our tutor team today.

With an experienced network of vetted, lovely tutors across the West Surrey area – including Hersham, Surbiton, Cobham, Weybridge and Fleet – we can put you in touch with a local tutor who can make a real difference.

Plus we’ve a new team in Chichester, covering the Witterings, and wider Chichester area. Here’s how to get in touch.




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