At Head Held High, we are entering our speech and drama exam season. And while nerves can be good, stress is a different story.
We want our students to feel proud of their performance — not held back by possible anxiety. So we prepared this post to help students reduce their stress levels, and let all the wonderful things they have learned this year shine when it comes time to showcase them in exams!
What’s even better? These techniques will work for any and all of the many tests your child will face in their years of formal education.
Meditation isn’t just for grown-ups. The basic idea is to control breathing and focus — something people of all ages can benefit from.
For kids, it’s important to keep these moments short and to include the whole household. Whenever you see them getting stressed over something, it’s a good opportunity to reinforce the idea of taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on their body.
If you aren’t sure about how to do deep breathing exercises, here’s a video we recommend as a good starting point for the whole family. It’s a great chance for everyone to learn together! Including everyone will help your child understand that these techniques are a normal, healthy part of life.
This works much better than telling a kid to chill out or take it easy. Learning how to use the breath to calm down is a skill, and it’s especially useful come test time.
Luck Never Hurts
Does your child have a lucky charm or a favourite toy? Let them take it along on exam day.
Having an item from home that they connect to can give them that added boost of comfort — a little reminder that life is good.
And who knows? Maybe that lucky charm really is lucky?!
When your child gets stressed out about exams, that can often lead to you being stressed out for them. While empathy is good, seeing an adult stressed out can reinforce the child’s anxiety.
So take time to manage your own stress around the exam. After all, it’s only an exam. It’s a way for a teacher to check how they and their students are doing. The outcome doesn’t say anything about the true abilities of your child or about you as a parent.
So remember to breathe deep and get some positivity going for yourself if you need it!
Keep a Good Routine
To do your best, you need to be well rested and not full of sugar. It’s the same for children.
If you know when your child will be taking their exam, you can make sure that they have a solid sleep routine that they’ve been on for the days leading up to it. You can also make sure to give them a great breakfast on the big day — something that will keep them focused on the task at hand.
While we do our best to do these things all the time, it’s worth putting a little more attention into a healthy routine leading up to an exam.
Just like adults, so much of a child’s emotions comes from how they talk to themselves. It’s easy for a stressed out kid to fall into the trap of saying “this is too hard” or “I’m going to bomb.”
But if they are given new things to tell themselves, it can make a big impact on their test performance. Give your child a new script, maybe something like: “I’m going to do my best,” or “I’m prepared for this.”
Armed with these positive affirmations, your child has something to rely on when their head is spinning.
It can help to involve the family in this, just like with meditation and breathing techniques. That reminds the child that this is a normal part of a healthy, happy life at any age.