Examination time

2008-07-16 00:00

Success in examinations depends on an ongoing inter-active communication between and among parents, pupils and teachers.

Parents must keep abreast of the school system in order to help their children get the best out of it. In the South African context parents need to be familiar with curriculum aims so that they can provide psychological support to their children.

When parents have some basic knowledge of the school system they will be in a position to help their children plan and organise study sessions.

Parents with young children can help them to develop organisational skills through practice and becoming role models.

Use the following guidelines to help children organise their study time:

• set broad rather than specific guidelines;

• let the child determine his or her targets; and

• choose to be flexible rather than rigid.

Use the following steps to help children get organised:

• develop set routines for sleep, reading and play;

• when your child starts school, help him or her to draw up a home timetable, which includes fun activities;

• draw up a “to do” list and teach your child to tick off the tasks once they have been completed;

• introduce a reward system; and

• at bedtime discuss the activities of the day. This routine will help your child to recap on what he or she has done and prepare him or her for the next day.

Most young children have fairly short attention spans. Let your child have regular breaks between studying.

Young pupils should not spend long hours doing homework as it deprives them of other pursuits necessary for all-round growth, such as outdoor games or interacting with siblings, peers and adults. It is recommended that not more than two to three hours a day is spent on academic work for primary school pupils. Ensure that you allow for more breaks in the period leading up to important tests and examinations.

Use the following tips to enhance your child’s study techniques:

• understand how long your child takes to study by monitoring his or her study habits. Then work out the amount of time needed;

• draw up a reasonable study timetable with enough time left for homework, play and rest;

• plan what to study (usually the more challenging subjects first). However, always start with an easy task to help motivate him or her;

• choose a quite place to study;

• take short breaks to help with concentration; and

• before the end of the study session, review what has been done.

The main purpose of using effective study techniques is to be assured of success in the examinations. Some children do better in examinations because they are well-composed under stressful conditions.

Encourage your child to use following coping strategies for examinations:

• apply effective study techniques over a period of time;

• revise systematically;

• practise doing what the examination requires, including working on past examination papers;

• do not learn new concepts on the day of or the day before the examination; and

• go to sleep early the night before an examination.

Examinations can cause stress over an extended period. Parents can help their children build resistance to stress through physical conditioning. Psychologists have proved that examination stress gives rise to increased susceptibility to illness and the development of other serious health conditions.

Employ the following examination stress-coping strategies.

• Encourage your child to relax. Teach your child specific relaxation techniques to help relax tense muscles and achieve a calm frame of mind.

• Teach your child problem-solving techniques. Remind your child of the acronym “SOS”. S stands for stop and take stock of the situation — analyse possible reasons for what you are studying. O stands for look for options for approaching the problem, that is, what can be done and how it should be done. The last S stands for try out options and find solutions.

• Keep channels of communication open. Some children take things too seriously and need to learn to deal with one thing at a time. Parents can help by talking the child through their problems.

• Set goals for inner peace and serenity. Make sure that that your child does not forego a chance to enjoy extra-curricular activities because of extra lessons. By accepting your child’s limits and choosing beliefs that help your him or her to deal with the unknown, you will develop a sense of inner peace and serenity in your child.

Employing effective study techniques is one way of ensuring success in examinations. It is incumbent upon parents to encourage their children to apply these study techniques to supplement the teacher’s role in preparing children for examinations.

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