Studying and exam preparation can lead to stress and anxiety for even the most advanced students, and it’s important for parents to understand how they can help their child navigate the process and reach their potential. The key is developing strong study habits early to ensure students understand which tools help them learn best and maintain good study habits as they advance to higher grades and post-secondary education.
Much like building reading and literacy skills, students often require an individualized approach to studying for exams and managing their class workload. It’s important that parents also understand how they can help students navigate the process of learning to study effectively. If you’re unsure where to start, Dr. Truch has outlined some helpful tips below.
Make a Schedule and Plan Ahead
Many teachers provide a timeline of units, readings and assignments for their class, and parents can use this as an outline for their child’s study schedule. If such a timeline is not provided—or the teacher does not plan the whole semester ahead of time—parents can request updates or meet with their child’s teacher periodically to find out what’s on the horizon. This will be most helpful when your child is moving through early elementary school and gaining independence. Once they reach higher grades, you can encourage them to continue this practice on their own. Once you and your child have a clearer vision of what’s coming up in their classes, pay special attention to weeks where multiple exams take place and multiple assignments are due. This will help with time management, avoid the need to cram and help reduce stress.
If your child is going to be absent from school for any reason, they should meet with their teacher to discuss the work they will be missing and how they can avoid falling behind.
Make a Study Plan
Procrastination is one of the most common studying struggles, which results in students feeling unprepared and frantically cramming the night before. Working with your child to create a study plan will help them stay on top of readings and help them retain information on an ongoing basis that will be important come exam time. Regular study time doesn’t have to be lengthy, either—even a 15-minute cue card review every day can be effective. Instilling the importance of preparation early will help your child learn positive study habits that they will be able to continue throughout their education.
Encourage your child to make mental images while they are in class or reading textbooks, which will help them remember information. If they have required readings to do for class, taking notes or making cue cards while reading can be an effective way to retain what they’re reading and act as a resource to reference later.
Students should also make their study space similar to the actual test-taking space. Studies have shown that this approach can help students feel more relaxed and improve recall during an exam. Studying in this type of environment will also remove distractions like cellphones, television or loud background noise.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
Exam preparation will be less daunting if students are able to stick to their study plan—the more prepared they feel, the less stressed they are likely to be on exam day. If exams or presentations make them feel particularly anxious, they can also develop their own relaxation routine. This routine can be short and include things like deep breathing or listening to calming music, and they can set aside some time to do these activities before they begin.
If you notice your child is struggling with their study skills and exam preparation, The Reading Foundation is here to help and support his or her unique learning journey. With locations in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, The Reading Foundation’s team of educators offer unique one-to-one programs to help students overcome challenges and become life-long learners.
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