Take the stress out of it all

The Director of the Education Hotel tuition agency offers her top tips on reducing stress around exam season

In 2019, children are sitting more exams than ever. From common entrance to SATs, GCSEs to A-levels, the pressure of exams is leading to stressed-out children and even more stressed-out parents.

As the Director of her own tutoring business, Jemma Zoe Smith has plenty of experience taking the stress out of study. She currently manages a small team of knowledgeable tutors as well as tutoring full time herself. She has flown across the world supporting students from Kenya to Dubai with their revision. Here, she outlines her top tips to help children and parents to feel more relaxed about their upcoming tests.

My top tips

Start early – As with any big event, the key to success is in planning. You should start putting together a revision plan a long time before school sends home revision checklists and definitely before mock exams. I personally like to start early and so recommend two years of preparation, although I do cater to last minute preparation requests. Don’t forget to include breaks in your plan, as well as plenty of structured time for exam practice. I recommend that parents involve their child in the planning process too, depending on their age.

Be their biggest cheerleader – parental encouragement is vital to achieving top marks. Never put your child down, even if it is to another parent and you don’t think they can hear. They need to know that you believe in them. Parents can help by testing students on facts and vocabulary, acknowledging that revision is difficult or just by congratulating them on the effort they are putting into study.

Be aware of comparing your child to others– No child wants to hear how well their cousin did in the same exam or how many hours another student in their class is studying. It won’t motivate them to work and it could end in an argument. Every child is different so focus on your child and their goals.

Take away distractions – it is 2019; everyone has Instagram and Snapchat. Students use their phones as calculators and alarm clocks, and the average young person checks their phone every 8.6 minutes. Revision time should not be phone time. This means buying a calculator, getting an egg timer for exam practice and putting the phone out of temptation’s reach until revision is over.

Use the power of an external influence – l believe that the biggest difference between a tutor and a teacher is mentoring. While your tutor must know their subject really well, they must also be able to go beyond this. For me, private tuition is about being a listening ear, tweaking the curriculum to suit individual interests and motivating students, all while covering the necessary material. I view my relationship as a partner to both parents and children. I regularly feed back to parents regarding their child's progress and areas of focus. But I also act as an external mentor for a child, motivating them to push themselves and achieve highly. Currently I have a student who I check in with every day to ensure that she is maintaining focus for her upcoming GCSE's. I like to make sure that I regularly check in to answer parents queries, share revision resources and offer a listening ear.

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