With mounting pressures on young children to perform at exceedingly high levels, how can we make sure we are looking after the whole child in the process? Here are 7 ways to help make for a happy 7+.
With all the hard work our children are pouring into their exam preparations, it is essential that we, as parents and educators, praise their efforts. This means recognising when they have tried really hard, even if the outcome is not exam perfect. Be specific in your praise using phrases such as: “I was so impressed that you didn’t give up on that question, even though you were finding it tricky.” Specific praise that is aimed at effort will nourish their desire to keep trying, help them enjoy what they are doing and therefore want to keep doing it. Encouraging your child to ‘try their best’ rather that to ‘be perfect’ will also serve them in the long term, by helping to them to gently nurture an attitude of steadfastness. This will benefit them irrespective of the institution they eventually attend.
Make exam preparation enjoyable by treating your child like a VIP. Make them their favourite drink whilst they study, light scented candles or dress them in their favourite comfy pyjamas. I’ve tutored in homes where we have studied in front of a roaring fire as we drank hot chocolate, which made the process of studying feel almost magical.
Just as you protect time for studying, do the same for playtime. This can be specially allotted time when your child can choose to play freely, however they wish. Such time will refresh the mind and body, so it is in a healthy place for when studies resume.
Studies have shown that nature has a hugely positive impact on wellbeing, producing oxytocin (our happy hormone), freeing our mind from over-thinking and exercising our bodies: all essential qualities that will contribute to a successful mental performance. Support your child to get out on their bike, rustle through the leaves in the woods and breathe in that fresh air. It could even inspire an exciting setting for their next story!
In the drive for academic improvement, it is all too easy to forget how blessed we already are. Help your child practise gratitude by sharing things that you are thankful for: from caring parents to dedicated teachers, yummy food eaten, toys played with and books read. This in turn will create a positive mindset that will help your child navigate through the exam process with more confidence in themselves and less fear over the outcome.
If nerves or exam worries begin to get the better of your child, help them to find calmness with some simple breathing exercises that will help them to escape their worries and gain a more composed state of mind. This can be as simple as breathing in and out to the count of five, or visualising breathing out their worries as black clouds and breathing in happiness as pure, white light.
If nothing else, try to enjoy the process (Mums and Dads included) because there is no day like today, and what is life if we cannot enjoy it? Even the bits that are difficult. Mums, Dads and children, good luck with your exams! You are and always will be brilliant.