It’s SATs week and Mostly Mum is in a contemplative mood.
While resisting the urge to give in to to the worry gremlins (see quote posted above!), we here at Mostly Mum HQ have come up with a stress-busting exam week strategy that will serve us all well as we navigate those choppy educational waters with our children over the coming months and years.
Just the sight of that exam hall is enough to get those tummy butterflies a fluttering (well, for Mostly Mum, at least!)
When you are pregnant with your first baby, you (naively!) think that the hardest part of child rearing will be those uncertain early days and sleepless first nights.
But it’s not at all! The actual hard part begins when those first baby milestones come into play… The first successful roll over, the first successful attempt to sit, crawl, walk and talk.
As, from that point on, it becomes very difficult not to fall down the comparison rabbit hole. Is my child on track? Such and such a child can do X, mine can’t (yet!), should I worry, furiously Google, consult my GP or, indeed, do all three of the above?
As a new (and even later) parent, it can be incredibly difficult to resist the urge to pit your child against their peers and worry that you as their parent are not doing enough to help them keep up in this oh so competitive age, where academic success is all to often prized above all else (and often at the expense of the individual!).
Once your child begins school, these concerns are heightened as the average developmental pace at which a child masters reading, spelling and mathematics often varies so greatly between the children in a year group.
As the children progress through their primary school years, there is more and more emphasis placed on school success as parents enrol their offspring in extra-curricular tutoring groups, hire tutors and allocate extra time to homework, all in a bid to propel them towards some sort of academic ideal of future success.
Where my eldest, who is now sitting her Year 6 SATs, is concerned, my approach has veered from one extreme (la, la, la, not even thinking about it!) to the tiger mother/ helicopter parent approach, where I have enrolled her in extra classes, hired tutors, tutored her myself, stressed, worried about the future until today…
Today, I am completely calm about the educational future of my eldest child and, indeed, of all my children as, through trial and error, I have devised a plan (a cheat’s guide – that doesn’t involve actual cheating – if you will!) that will see me through the next twenty or so years (wow! That long!) of my children’s academic careers…
Like most things of value in life, there is no quick fix. Academic success can only come through good, old-fashioned hard work and preparation.
Cheating is not tolerated chez Mostly Mum!
Where exams are concerned, cramming does not cut it in the long run. To properly prepare for an upcoming exam, or set of exams, both the parents and the children should familiarise themselves with the material that will be tested and the exam format.
For us, this means purchasing previous exam papers at least a few months in advance of the exam, looking at all topics in as much depth as possible (YouTube tutorials are a fantastic educational resource for any topics that parents might be rusty on or unfamiliar with!) and identifying possible problematic areas to focus on.
In this way, there will be no nasty surprises on that all important exam day.
Past papers – an invaluable resource for test success!
As every person, and every child for that matter, has their own style of learning, it is important to identify which technique suits best and will, eventually, yield the best test scores.
For some, it might be note taking, for others, it is highlighting relevant information, reading out loud or even watching short video tutorials.
The most important thing is to find the approach (or combined approach) which best suits your individual child.
Equally, we should be mindful of instructing our children on the most suitable exam technique such as circling relevant information in the questions, not spending too much time on one difficult question at the expense of the others (in other words, allocating the right amount of time to each question) and finally, allowing some time to check over their answers at the very end of the exam.
These are tips which should serve our children well from primary school right through to those all important university finals.
In conjunction with scholastic preparations, it is important to ensure that our children are eating and sleeping well so as their little bodies are properly equipped to deal with the many demands that are placed upon them while at school.
As well as nutritionally balanced meals and adequate rest, additional daily vitamins, especially those containing Omega-3 and DHA, have been proven to improve the concentration levels of school age children.
Omega-3 and DHA containing vitamins – a Mostly Mum must-have for scholastic success
Set your alarm clock (or multiple alarm clocks) the night before the day of the exam. Don’t get off to a bad start by… oversleeping, being late, skipping breakfast or a combination of all three!
On exam day, punctuality is a must (even for the usually tardy Mostly Mum! 😳)
The elephant in the room…
If all does not go to plan – and let’s face it, despite the best laid plans, things will and often do go awry – teach your children (and yourselves, if necessary!😉 ) that failing an exam – or set of exams – is not the end of the road, merely a stumbling block on the long road to success.
There is no single path to future success!
It might be worth reminding our children (and especially ourselves!) that some of the most celebrated, successful people in the world, such as Einstein, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Lord Alan Sugar and even Simon Cowell, were classed as academic ‘failures’.
In this glossy, success driven, Instagram world we have created for our children there was never a more important time to…
Be their biggest cheerleaders!
We might have our down days, we might struggle but we must never ever lose faith because if we learn to believe in our children then they will, by default, learn to believe in themselves too.
Wishing you and yours all the very best of luck this week and over the coming years! 😊
Until next time…
💋 Mostly Mum