With the Year 6 SATs just a few weeks away, parents often ask me how they can help their kids manage test stress. They want to help with children with passing or preparing for these tests – and how to manage during the actual testing week.
Surviving the Year 6 SATs – Part 1
year 6 sats – how to help your child with the stress
Parents, as well as children, can find the Year 6 SATs stressful and want to help their child. Parents are often left wondering how they can help their child study for the tests, cope with the academic pressures – and successfully manage test anxiety. As the SATs are only a month away, it really is time to get down to some serious studying to ensure that your child feels as confident as they can be on the day of the test. Studying now will help with SATs stress and make them feel more in control. Here are some top bits of advice I can offer on how to best support your kids:
Getting PerspectivE ON THE SATS
Yes, the SATs are to be taken seriously; they are a good way to show children that test preparation is important, and how to approach tests calmly and with confidence. They are, in this sense, good preparation for future test sitting skills. Through-out our lives, we are tested, whether it be GCSE’s, AS or A Levels (or equivalent), school entrance tests driving test, university or further study etc. Knowing how to prepare for these tests and manage our stress in these periods are key life skills.
However, the results of the Year 6 SATs will not impact on what GCSEs your child will sit, nor are they any definitive indicator of your child’s future academic success. From many years of experience, I can tell you, the results will be talked about and compared between kids and parents the day or two after they come out, but realistically, by the end of the summer, they have been forgotten. When September rolls around, they have more important things on their mind – starting secondary school.
Know the dates of the tests and be organised
Have the dates of the tests on the calendar and make sure you and your child know which test is on which date. This will help them organise what to study for and when – and what to recap the night before.
Have all the necessary equipment at home – pencil, eraser, ruler and protractor. They will be asked to measure lines and angles in the maths papers, so check they are able to do these basic skills quickly, easily and accurately. Check what the school provides on the day as most schools will have all the equipment ready on the day.
Have a designated study space
At home, make sure they have a place where they can study; somewhere quiet, and preferably without distraction, with all their books and equipment. Keeping this space tidy is important as cluttered spaces can cause stress. Looking untidy can represent being untidy and disorganised – and you want your kids to feel calm, stress-free and organised in their approach to preparing for the tests.
Have a study planner and know when your child learns best
Plan in time each day at a time when your child learns best and make it a routine as far as possible. Our brains are all different and can focus at different times of the day. For example, 2 half-an-hour slots may well work much better for them than an hour and a half solid. Talk with them about when they think they learn best. It’s QUALITY over QUANTITY each day.
You can download a FREE study planner from my website – have a look at the resources page.
Let them move while they are learning
Let kids move around as and when they need to while they are studying. For many kids, it’s not “fidgeting” – moving about is helping to keep them focused. If they are told to still, all their focus will be on sitting still, rather than on what they are meant to be learning. Additionally, simply getting up, having a glass of water or a minute or 2 outside, gives them space to be calm, refresh and be ready to start again. Most of us need a break when we are working – kids need breaks far more often – after about 15 / 20 minutes. It’s not skiving to have a break – it’s good for their brain and concentration! When they start to fidget – let them move. Or, ask them what they need – they will know when they need a break and will appreciate being asked – it will also make them more willing to come back!
Plan in fun things too
Make sure your child has something to look forward to after studying – an activity, a movie, time with friends or the iPad, or time to eat something whilst chatting to you. It can’t all be about the tests – they need to relax too. Don’t fall into the trap of cancelling all their after-school activities for a month before – they need those outlets to blow off steam and they will most likely resent you for it, even though you have their best intentions in mind. Keep their routine as normal as possible. Be realistic about what will give them time to , balanced with time to study. Involve them in these decisions – you might be pleasantly surprised by how mature they are in their approach to this.
Stay calm when they do maths differently to you
Chances are if you’re working with them on their maths, they will carry out calculations differently to how you used to do it at school. Don’t try to change it now at home under stressful conditions. Either ask their teacher or get a tutor for a few weeks, because a tutor will know how the kids are meant to do this. What is key to note is that kids GET MARKS for showing their working out. It is actually possible to accurately answer every question on the paper and yet not get 100% unless they showed their calculations. If you’re getting more stressed and arguments are breaking out – step away and keep calm.
Stay calm when they don’t know the answer
Patience – unlimited patience and calm is key. They will get stressed if you are getting stressed and there’s nothing more stressful than them knowing they’ve got it wrong and they see you getting stressed at them. They then start shouting any old answer just to try and hit on the right one and this can then stress you out – and neither of you are getting anywhere fast. Take a breath, have some space and go back to it when you are calm. Ask them what exactly they don’t understand – there will be some bits they do and one key bit they don’t, so talk to them about what they need.
Learn the times tables (up to 12 x 12)
The times tables are absolutely ESSENTIAL in the maths tests. They will need to know the times tables thoroughly so working on these is one of the best skills you can give them.
Learn the required spellings
Have a look at the resources page; there is a resource which outlines all of the Year 6 compulsory spellings. They are likely to be used in the SAT Spelling paper.
There is still time to make a real difference – both to their academic progress and their personal confidence in sitting the tests.
If they are struggling with confidence, and you think they could use some extra support, why not get in touch. As “the kids coach,” I’ve helped many children learn the tools and skills they need to ensure they stay calm and focused during stressful periods, such as tests and SATs.
As the Costa’s kids coach, I help children learn important life skills such as managing stress and confidence around test situations. If you are worried about your child’s stress, or even how your concerns might be impacting on your child, please get in touch for a free consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org