By: Jennifer Mandato, LAC
Attempting to get your child to sit and study is a chore in itself, and then once you get them to sit they actually have to study. This process can bring upon a lot of anxiety for your child. Did I remember all my materials? Will this be on the test? What if I get a bad grade? What if I forget what I studied? How long should I study? As someone who was challenged by test anxiety, these questions ran through my brain before every test. As I got older and learned what tactics best suited me, anxiety lessened. Not to say it disappeared, after all we are all human, but I found the best ways to help myself.
Not every child learns the same. One child may be able to listen to the material and have it memorized, while another child may have to see it written. Think about when you have gotten a bookshelf or something to put together and it just had pictures and no written directions, was this easy or difficult? If you are a visual learner this was a piece of cake; if you are a verbal or auditory learner this may have been quite the challenge. Someone can be a visual (pictures), auditory (sound), verbal (written words) or physical (hands-on/touch) learner. Finding out how your child learns can help decide if flashcards or an audio recording of their material would be most helpful.
A designated study space
When it comes to doing homework sometimes kids can be nomads. They will plop themselves on a couch, bed, floor, wherever they may land. Unfortunately, this is not optimal for homework or studying. Your child should have a designated study area. This should be an area as free from distraction as it can and calming. For some children, this may be an office desk or kitchen table. If their desk is in their room, it is important they use their desk and not the bed or bean bag chair that may be in it. While some students use apps such as Focus Keeper to stay on track, not having it placed within reach is key. It should be close enough that they can hear the timer for their break but not close enough where they can play games and browse social media.
How to study
As many of us learned the hard way, cramming was not the best way to learn and retain information. Setting up a study schedule for an allotted amount of time before the test will help your child retain information and reduce stress before the exam. This can be done using their agenda book or a dry erase calendar in their room. Including reminders and goals will help reduce the last minute cramming and test anxiety. While they are studying, allow for breaks. As mentioned above there are apps that can be used to set an amount of time to study and time for a break. These breaks should be restorative and not involve screen time. That can make getting back to studying more challenge and cause a power struggle between you and your child.
Celebrating their hard work
Even though they may have not gotten a perfect score, celebrate their effort. Knowing that studying is difficult for your child, the fact that they were able to sit and prepare for their tests is a success. It’s the process not the product. The more encouragement and sense of pride they feel the more they will want to continue these habits to make not only you proud but they will make themselves proud!
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Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles