How To Help Your Kids Study For an Exam

If you are a parent, I am sure you care for your kids’ academic performance and you also want your kids to do well in their exams. Unfortunately, exams remain the conventional method to test a kid’s understanding of what they have learnt. Some kids may feel some form of exam stress. I am not sure about you but as a parent, I feel the same too.

In Singapore, all Primary 6 students are required to sit for a public exam known as the Primary School Leaving Examination (“PSLE”). If you are not familiar with our education system, it is commonly accepted by parents here that a kid’s future will depend on his PSLE result. After all, Singapore is a competitive society and only kids with above average PSLE results will be able to go to better secondary schools, which will pave the way for them to get into junior colleges and the universities.

Even though my eldest son is only in Primary 5 now, I start feeling some form of exam stress too as a parent. I cannot imagine that it is just one year away before he sits for his PSLE. I care for my son’s future and wonder how I can help him study for his exam (and that includes his PSLE). I went through a similar education system in Hong Kong and sat for different kinds of public exams before. I think it is time I can share my experience with him. In this article, I am going to share with you 3 great tips and hopefully you will find my sharing insightful.

It is the kids’ exams and not ours

It is natural for parents to be concerned with their kids’ academic performance and exam results. I know some parents will demand their kids to achieve certain scores in the exams. However, as it is our kids’ exams, it is my view that we should not impose our own expectation on our kids as a command. Instead, I encourage both parents and their kids to get together and talk about their own expectations. Effective communication between parents and kids should always be a dialogue and not a monologue.

How to set a bigger goal for exams

I also know some parents will just tell their kids to study hard for the exams and let the kids find out what the meaning of “studying hard” is. Here is something I find useful. I am aware that my son is a visual learner. Thus, I gave him a picture of a dartboard and asked him to write down his goal for the upcoming PSLE. The reason why I did this was to identify if there was any expectation gap between us. He said that he was aiming at 60% whereas I thought he could achieve at least 80%. Hence, there was indeed an expectation gap.

During my discussion with him, I noticed my son was fine with the idea of getting 60% and going to an average secondary school. Of course this was not what I wanted to hear. I encouraged him to set a bigger goal by helping him to identify additional benefits of doing so. I know one of the hot buttons for him is to make his mother upset. Therefore, I encouraged him to aim at getting a better score in his PSLE so that his mother would be very proud of him. Once he saw this connection, he accepted my suggestion and wrote down a bigger goal on the picture of the dartboard.

How to help our kids to build his confidence

Do you agree that sitting for exams can be a challenge to our kids? As a result, a kid must not only believe in himself that he can do well in the exam, he must also be confident at all times. However, here is a common problem among the parents, i.e. giving their kids the negative labels. Did it happen to you when you were a kid? While others may say it is a vicious cycle, I say we have to stop it. It is important for our kids to feel that we are always supporting them.

Imagine your kid is an average student in his class and he did not do well in his mid-term exam recently. Should you give him the negative labels, for example, stupid, useless, not paying attention? Instead of giving him these negative labels, you can say something like “I see you put in effort in this exam and I know you can do better in the final exam if you put in more effort.” Do you see the difference here? Encouragement from parents is a transfer of positive energy to their kids and this allows them to feel the love and support. This is an effective confidence booster to the kids.

I hope you will find my sharing useful to you, especially if your kids are preparing for their major exams like my son’s PSLE. Remember, effective communication between you and your kids is important. If you notice your kids are experiencing some form of exam stress, listen to them and support them, and allow them to feel our love.