Posted on

How to Help Our Child to Overcome Exam Syndrome

stressStudents are often faced with a series of exams or tests at the end of term or semester, which are usually scheduled closely together. This can lead to great stress for students – and those who live with them! The words stress and pressure are often used interchangeably but in fact, they are quite different. Pressure can be positive and useful to complete deadlines or to help somebody avoid danger. However, when pressure is prolonged, it can become negative, and depend on how the individual perceives it and reacts to it, it can lead to the development of stress. This Hot Topic offers information and ideas on how to help our child or young person manage exam stress.

What is exam stress?

For some people, the increased pressure around exam time may lead to them experiencing stress symptoms much more readily than others. Stress can be defined as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them’. It varies from person to person and in many ways a stress response is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or that upset your balance in some way. However, we do know that prolonged stress can lead to illness, both mental and physical.

What causes exam stress?

Exam stress is a natural reaction to pressure caused by a number of factors including:

  • Inability to accept failure or uncertainty
  • Pessimism or negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations (either of the student or the parents)
  • Unpreparedness
  • Life transitions
  • Family issues and/or relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Performance anxiety.

What are the known impacts of exam stress?

When a person is stressed over something, their body reacts accordingly. If adequate approaches for managing extreme exam stress aren’t developed it can have negative results including lower grades than anticipated or required. Over the long term, various physical health problems such as digestive problems, eczema, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety or depression could develop.

What can you expect to see if your child has exam stress?

Some people feel pressure and develop stress symptoms more than others. Stress responses can differ between males and females as well, with research showing females present internal symptoms and responses such as nausea, butterflies, and feelings of inadequacy which can lead to sadness and depression. Males tend to externalize their anxiety and can become increasingly irritable or angry.

When someone is faced with increased pressure (in this case at exam time) their body can go into a ‘fight or flight’ response which releases increased amounts of adrenaline into the body. This can lead to various symptoms including:

  • Feeling cranky and irritable (increased yelling or crying, swearing, hitting)
  • Indecisiveness and/or confusion
  • Problems with going to sleep or getting up in the morning
  • Strongly beating heart, sweating
  • Mild chest pains, back pains, nausea, trembling, shortness of breath
  • Minor stomach upsets
  • Possible skin breakouts
  • Teeth grinding, nail-biting and fidgeting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Going blank in the exam.

If exam stress or stress, in general, is not resolved responsibly, it can lead to more serious problems like:

  • Increased smoking, drinking or drug use (for teenage and above)
  • Losing touch with friends
  • Feeling inadequate, negative self-talk, blaming.

What influences a person’s stress tolerance level? 

Support network – A young person experiencing exam stress will have a better response to stress if supported by parents or other caring adults.

A sense of control – Having a sense of control over what to expect on the day, what to learn and ways to systematically revise will assist a young person to manage their exam stress.

Positive attitude and outlook – Assist them to see the bright side, to laugh at themselves and to appreciate the positives in life. People who are resilient to stressors have an optimistic attitude.

Preparation – The more a young person prepares for a stressful situation, such as an exam, the easier it is to cope. A student’s stress level is often influenced by the amount of preparation and planning they have put into studying towards a particular exam and how confident they feel about the material they are to be tested on.

What can parents and carers do about exam stress?

One of the best things parents or carers can do if their child is experiencing exam stress is to try to be as supportive and tolerant as possible.

We’ve put together a list of strategies that may help young people to manage exam stress. We’ve also included some tips on how to help your child deal with stress on and after the exam day.

Effective study and learning habits

Parents and carers can help reduce the exam stress of their child by helping them establish effective study and learning habits:

  • Help your child find a quiet place to study without distractions. Make sure their table is uncluttered so they can focus better.
  • Encourage your child to find out exactly what the test involves – are there past test papers they can look at to help them understand what to expect?
  • Encourage your child to ask for help or ask their teacher for clarity if they are unsure of something or if they feel confused.
  • Help them to make ‘mind maps’ to collect ideas and summarise thoughts – use bright colors to help remember important links.
  • Help them to plan their study schedule early on so they have sufficient time to study. It can be helpful to develop a clear, realistic plan of what they want to cover in each study session. Can they break it down into small chunks?
  • Remind your child to take a short rest and move around in between each part of their study.
  • Offer help sometimes. It can be useful having someone to listen or practice with.

Healthy sleeping and eating habits

  • Encourage your child to stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time. They need to avoid late night TV shows or movies.
  • Motivate them to eat regularly and make time to have fun and exercise.
  • Help them to cut back on coffee or any other stimulants which they may be using, as these can increase agitation. Encourage them to drink lots of water instead.
  • Remind them to take time out when they eat, rather than carrying on with the study.
  • Encourage them to eat fresh fruit, veggies, cereals, grains, nuts, and protein – they are all good for the brain and blood sugar levels.
  • Encourage them to eat when they get hungry. This keeps blood sugar and hydration levels steady.
  • Avoid junk food if possible. It will bring a sudden sugar high which will fall away quickly, leaving a person feeling tired.

Relaxation ideas to help your child cope with exam stress

  • Always encourage your child to relax before they go to bed after concentrating for long periods of time. Activities such as reading a short story may help them unwind and sleep better.
  • Encourage them to go out for a walk, run or do some other exercise they enjoy.
  • Teach them relaxation techniques such as listening to some gentle music, getting them to lie down, closing their eyes and taking a deep breath while visualizing a calming scene such as a deserted beach.
  • Help your child to develop a positive mindset by encouraging them to visualize success – this can really help with self-confidence.[12]
  • Avoid rushing on the day of the exam by organizing and packing everything they need to take with them the night before.

Ideas for exam day

Talk about these ideas before exam day so as not to add to anxiety levels.

Suggest to your child that they:

  • Eat a good and light breakfast – something that will sustain them and help them concentrate.
  • Try to arrive at school or the exam venue early.
  • Go to the toilet before the exam starts.
  • Keep away from people who may agitate them before the test or may say unhelpful, anxiety-provoking comments.
  • Try writing about their thoughts and feelings at least 10 minutes before the exam to free up brainpower from focusing on emotions so they can focus on the test material instead.
  • Take time to slow their breathing and relax when they first sit down in the exam room.
  • Skim over the exam paper, underlining key words and instructions.
  • Work out how long they have to each question or section.
  • Watch out for the wording of the questions – they need to understand and address what the question is really asking.
  • Answer the questions they find easiest first to build their confidence, then as they relax more move on to more difficult ones.
  • Don’t worry about how long others are taking but keep an eye on the clock to ensure they have enough time to answer the more difficult questions.
  • Re-read answers if possible and make any changes that are necessary – correct spelling, check workings.

Post-exam tip

If your child is not able to do well in the exam and they feel very upset about it, reassure them that there is always a second chance and passing an exam is only part of the story. It may be helpful to take some time to discuss any problems they had so they can avoid them next time.

Who else can help?

You may wish to contact your local parenting help service/s for further information and help.

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Strategies To Build Math Confidence

This year is just like every other year.  There seems to be one BIG issue facing our students.   Last year, we are seeing a flurry of children with reading fluency and spelling issues.  The major concern I hear from parents this school year has been their child’s math struggles.  Math can be a challenge for students because they are faced with mathematical skills that are difficult to learn and typically this is caused by a lack of foundation in basic math concepts and difficulty with number sense.  If your child happens to be one of the students with math anxiety, here are some strategies to build math confidence.

schedule-free-trial-class1.  Practice math DAILY!  Ever heard the saying, “Math is all around us?” Well, it is true!  Look for opportunities to involve your child in everyday tasks such as making dinner (measurement, counting, estimating), walking to the park (calculating distance & time), putting away laundry (counting, sorting), or going shopping (money, calculation). There is always a way to incorporate math concepts with your children.  You don’t even have to set aside time to practice.  Let it happen naturally!

2.  Math is FUN!  Seriously, there are a dozen ways to have fun without knowing you are actually doing math.  Math concepts are naturally designed to be made into a game!  Sometimes you need to be creative and not rely on traditional board games. Try playing blackjack to work on adding, designing an obstacle course to build time skills, playing war to practice multiplication facts, playing computer games, creating guessing games, and even using Ipad apps. The possibilities are endless!

3. Review, Review, Review!  Weekends are a great time to go back and work on the skills that have posed a problem in the past.  If your child has never really mastered addition (yes, this is where they are still using their fingers to count), take the opportunity to take a few steps back and work on this skill.  It is the perfect time because their classmates are not around to compare what one another is doing OR not doing!

4. Get a head start!  We have all been there before…staring at a math problem that we have no idea how to solve.  I remember mine, it was the nine’s times tables.  Even the best and brightest child is going to come up against a problem that is new and challenging. Suddenly, math doesn’t seem to make sense. These can be crushing moments that end your child’s interest in math.  Look ahead into the upcoming lesson, make sure your child has the prerequisite skills necessary to be tackling the problems so they are not faced with such a large hurdle when the lesson begins.  >> http://bit.ly/Champion

5.  Ensure your child is not missing crucial concepts!  Sometimes kids miss concepts that are essential building blocks for understanding later concepts. If your child misses critical math milestones chances are your child is going to fall behind with related concepts.  This is a major blow to anyone’s confidence.  Start with the simple math activities and work slowly through math connections. This will lead to confidence, strength and a positive outlook about math.

Children learn best with consistent opportunities and exposure to math concepts.  These opportunities will develop a deep comprehension of the concepts and strategic problem solving skills. It is important to assist children by providing them with the necessary background knowledge to find the correct solutions. SmartExcel has math coaches to bring these skills to your child.  If you would like to learn more about how our math coaches can help your child, please contact us at (65) 9457 5811 or ask@SmartExcel.sg


Attention To All P1 – P6 Parents, Did your child FAILED his recent Math exam? And… this NOT the first time he failed his Math exam?
.
IS YOUR CHILD REVISING and yet feeling stressed out and under pressure with exams and tests in school?
.
IS YOUR CHILD’S GREATEST FEAR is MODEL DRAWING? Or is your child having difficulties to understand the CONCEPTS and learning in Math?

If your child has hit a slump midway through the school year, you are not alone. This is what YOU and YOUR CHILD NEED! >> http://bit.ly/Champion

_banner

★ MODEL APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING (NEW!) ★ INTENSIVE Class for Primary 1 – 6

Highly-visual, helps your child to see Maths – literally. The ability to visualize a problem goes a long way to solving it.
.
The Model Approach to Problem-solving was borne out of this fact. Go beyond conventional models and solve challenging problems fast with highly-efficient model techniques!

HOW OUR LESSONS WORK

SmartExcel lessons are run in small class 3-4 max students per tutor. This help us to focus on every child’s ability and improve on your child’s weak area. We work in their foundation and gradually increase to the level according to their ability.

WHAT WILL YOU & CHILD GAIN

★ FREE 2-hours trial session
★ FREE accurate assessment of your child’s academic ability
★ FREE consultation where we will discuss with you on the outcome and how we, together with you, can assist your child to do better.
.
Here’s how you can reserve your family seats for The COMPLIMENTARY Math Trial Session. Hurry click on this link >> http://bit.ly/Champion
.
Parents, you MUST take action now!! Before WE LOSS their interest & confidence in Math!

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Problems with Homework

lead_960From time to time you may have concerns about homework. Meet with teachers early in the school year and ask them to let you know if difficulties arise.

Some problems which may arise are:

  • the homework can regularly be too hard or too easy
  • your child refuses to do assignments despite encouragement
  • your child has problems completing assignments on time
  • you would like your child to do homework missed through illness
  • neither your child nor you understand the homework
  • Read more …

Posted on Leave a comment

How Do Math Manipulatives Help Children Learn?

countingStrong math skills provide the foundation for a wide variety of careers, such as computer programming, law, design and medicine. To really learn math, kids need to move beyond memorization to understand how the concepts behind the formulas work in real-world situations. Manipulatives help them make that leap by bridging the gap between concrete objects and abstract math ideas.

Useful Manipulatives

With a little creative thought, any small object can be used as a manipulative. You can use marbles, toy foods or toy animals to sort into sets or to demonstrate the quantities different numbers represent. Use small puzzles or food-to-cut toys to teach fractions or geometric shape tiles to help teach spatial concepts. Read more …

Posted on Leave a comment

How To Help Your Child Develop The Right Mindset For Math

Math is a part of our lives, whether we are getting groceries at the supermarket, doing the housework at home, cooking or planning a picnic. Few of us actually realize that we are using math more often than we realize. However, it’s sad to say that many children grow to dislike math for many reasons. Working with math problems can help your child become an independent thinker, effective problem solver and one that does not give up easily when faced with challenges. Help your child develop the right mindset and attitude towards math and they will learn to appreciate it.

parent_homework

Develop the right attitude

Parents can be a positive force in helping their child learn math, but they can also affect their child’s perception and attitude towards math. If you are someone who constantly say things like “Mathematic is hard”, “I don’t like math too” or “I never did well during math tests”, chances are your child will not grow to like math too. You can’t make your child love math, but you can encourage her to develop the right attitude towards math by helping her to see how mathematics can change or improve her daily life. Direct her attention to the interesting and fun things she can do with math and be mindful of what you say around your child.

Take risks

Raise a risk-taker who is not afraid to try new experiences or solve a tedious problem by themselves. When working on math questions, give your child ample time to think and try. You can also encourage him to share with you on how he derives at the answer. It is a good way to help your child reflect back on what he did to solve the questions. You can also clarify and explain further on the areas that he needs help with. This will strengthen his cognitive ability and groom him up as a problem-solver.

Make mistakes

Children and sometimes, even adults are afraid of making mistakes. The fear of failing may hinder your child’s enthusiasm to learn or try new experiences. Help your child develop a love for learning math by telling them that making mistake is a way to improve their capability. Celebrate and acknowledge when they succeed, and encourage and guide them when they failed to do it right.

children

Don’t Compare

Some parents can’t help it, but compare their child to the older sibling or to their friends. When you compare your child’s performance or results with others, it will tend to diminish her confidence and develop insecurities for that subject. It doesn’t matter if your child can’t count better than your neighbour’s child. Every child is special in their own ways, your child will have something they are good at too. Tap on their interests and ability to improve their mathematical awareness. Be more patient.

Balance

If you want to help your child succeed in school, you need to strike a balance between your child’s ability and your expectations. When guiding your child, be a supportive figure that guides them to perform up to their capability without placing too much pressure on their little shoulders. How can you strike a balance without pushing your child too hard?

1. Be a parent that is involved in their learning, but never overly involved.
2. Encourage your child to improve, but don’t overly stress them out.
3. Set limits for them to achieve, but provide them with the guidance they need.
4. Be there to guide them and yet still allowing them rooms to make mistakes.

Parents are the child’s first educator, and one that understands them better than anyone else. Use a variety of fun techniques like games, engage in math related conversations and plan a series of engaging math activities to teach and talk about math. Help your child develop the right mindset and a love for learning, and it will lead them towards success!


What Are The Important Skills My Child Needs For A Smooth Learning Journey?

The development of your child in the primary school years is fundamental as it lays the foundation for formal education.

For our younger students, it is really about growing their sense of curiosity, nurturing a love for the subject, and a passion for learning. Elements of play and games are infused into classes to make lessons more fun and enjoyable.

At the same time, we will also introduce hard skills such as listening, taking instructions and communicating effectively to instil confidence in your child and prepare him for the formal learning journey ahead.

For the older students who are in the kindergarten levels, we emphasize more on honing hard skills like reading, writing and problem-solving to set them on the right course for primary school.

What Can Parents Look Forward To In SMART Early Years Programme?

At Smart Excel, the focus for our Early Years curriculum is to help your child learn better, as we know that every child has different learning needs.

IDENTIFYING YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE

For a start, our programmes expose your child to various learning styles to help him or her better grasp new concepts. A healthy balance of skills and component mastery is also introduced to your child, depending on his or her academic level.

CELEBRATING YOUR CHILD’S MANY FIRSTS

We also recognise the importance of bringing out your child’s personal bests so that he or she can become a confident learner. Whether it’s witnessing your child independently writing his or her name or seeing him or her construct his or her first full sentence, every achievement is celebrated at Smart Excel.

BRINGING THE WORLD INTO THE CLASSROOM

To encourage curiosity in the classroom, we introduce captivating, real-world content to your child from an early age. Through our English, Math and Malay (available from K1 onwards) lessons, we develop your child’s awareness of the world through a range of topics such as Technology, World Cities and Animals. With our passionate and engaging teachers bringing each lesson to life, your child can look forward to hands-on activities and fun components that will make academics seem like play.

dreamstime_xl_7646478

Our K2 students who graduate from the SMART Early Years programmes often find their transition into Primary 1 a breeze. Many of them are adequately prepared for the rigours of Primary 1, not only in terms of subject mastery, but also emotionally and mentally.

If you are interested to speak with our enrolment specialists about our programmes, please email ask@SmartExcel.sg or call us at 9457 5811 and we will be happy to assist.

Registration for our classes is ongoing. | See Schedule Register - Free Trail