Exam Series #1: Beat Exam Stress – Beat Procrastination

Do your kids struggle with exams stress? Maybe its more Mommy than kids? And this is made SO much worse if your child is procrastinating about studying! The 5 tips I’m going to give you today will help your child beat procrastination so they can beat exam stress.

With the right tools, time management and attitude, your child can walk into the exam room feeling calm and in control, prepared for what lies ahead.

And you can drop them off at school without your heart pounding out of your chest. After all, if you want an adrenalin rush, go skydiving! 

exam stress, beat procrastination, exam series, 5 tips, stop procrastinating, anxiety, exams

What kind of student were you? Consistent Cassey or Last-minute Lucy? I know who I was… Still working on that…

Putting off a task because it seems too big or overwhelming, or maybe even too boring, might feel good in the moment. But having that hanging over your head, the constant nagging feeling that you really need to still get to that can elicit so much anxiety in us!

If your child has the tendency to procrastinate it will likely cause him or her a lot of anxiety coming up to exam time. And this is why we are considering THIS topic in our first instalment of the series! If you can help your child to develop the habits that will beat procrastination, then everything will be a lot easier too!

So, what can you do to help your child beat procrastination?

Here are 5 top tips to beat procrastination, develop more consistent study habits and beat exam stress.

1) Make the decision to get it done.

Your child knows the exam is coming. They’ve most likely been given an exam timetable so they actually know which exams are coming when. They know they’re going to have to study.

But they have to make the decision to get down to it.

When they’re younger, you make that decision for them.

When they’re older, we hope we’ve instilled enough of a sense of responsibility for them to make that decision for themselves.

Once the decision has been made that the task MUST be completed, we can start working on accomplishing that task. 

2) Break the task into smaller chunks.

There is nothing that fuels the fire of procrastination better than feeling like you are standing at the bottom of an impossibly large mountain of work.

Consider what it takes to climb Everest. No one just looks at this magnificent monster of a mountain and starts climbing from the base to the summit in one day. There is preparation. There is planning. The hike itself is broken into more manageable steps, with base camps set up strategically throughout the course.

exam stress, beat procrastination, exam series, 5 tips, stop procrastinating, anxiety, exams

Maybe studying all this work feels like Everest to your little one!

Use this illustration to help your child break up their work into smaller, more manageable chunks – base camps, if you will – along the route to the summit of exam success.

In our next tip, we’ll consider how to actually do that as we create a list of all that needs to be accomplished. 

3) Make a realistic to-do list

Creating a to-do list is a super effective way of not only breaking your child’s work into “bite-size” chunks, but also in setting goals to work towards. 

There are so many ways to structure this list and you will have to see what will suit your child best.

Here are some examples:

  • Topic by topic, Subject by subject (eg. Maths: Fractions, Time, Addition/ Subtraction, etc.)
  • Chapter by chapter through a textbook (eg. History or Science)
  • Section by section (eg. Language, Comprehension, Writing in English or Afrikaans)

The most important thing about creating this list is that it MUST be realistic.

I know, personally, I often think I can get through a lot more in a day than I actually can. At the end of the day, when I look at what I’ve checked off on my list, I feel despondent if I haven’t accomplished everything. If I’m honest with myself though – there was NO WAY I was going to get it all done! 

What can your child actually accomplish in that hour or two of study time? How can they realistically utilize that time in the best way? Will they need a break every 15min or every 30min? How much time will it take to work through a practice test? How long will it take them to design a mind-map?

Being realistic will mean that the task of studying seems much less overwhelming and much more manageable. You can beat procrastination and you overcome exam stress and anxiety!

SNEAK PEAK: Check out this FREE Study To-Do List Template.

4) Start with something! 

Climbing Everest starts with the first step.

Now that your child has decided to get down and get studying, you’ve helped them break their work down into manageable tasks, and they’ve made a realistic to-do list, they are ready to take the first step.

The most important thing to do is to get started with something. Pick an item on the list and do it!

There are two schools of thought here – see what your child would prefer:

  • Start with the task they dislike the most or find most difficult.
    • The pros: Get it over and done with, then it doesn’t sit there on that list, filling them with dread every time they peek over at the list.
    • The cons: If they don’t do well at it or it takes a really long time because they find it so difficult, they can find yourself quite discouraged and it can hinder them getting through the other items on the list.
  • Start with the task they find the most enjoyable and easiest.
    • The pros: It’s fun; it’s engaging; it’s easy. They feel confident and successful because they can check off an item on the list!
    • The cons: It can be so fun and engaging that they just can’t put it down. As a result, nothing else on the list gets done.

Maybe the middle of the road is best: Find something in between their best and worst item on that list and get it done. 

5) Celebrate what you have accomplished

Probably the most important point in beating procrastination, is to celebrate those moments when you succeed! Why? Because when we accomplish something we feel good about ourselves and it makes us want to do it so we can chase that high!

That’s our aim right – to help our children succeed! Check out this post too on how to support your child if they’re struggling in school.

So, what does success mean to your child? What does success mean to you? It’s a conversation you need to have with your child! Often, as a teacher, I see a huge discrepancy between what parents think their children should achieve and what the child views as a good achievement. I think we should be careful not to prioritise the wrong things. 

Success could be achieving that 80% on the test, improving from their previous mark, checking off their tasks on their to-do list, walking into the exam feeling confident (or at least not completely terrified). It could be that they know they’re going to get through it and come out on the other side without a failing mark.

Whatever success means to your child, you need to teach them to celebrate it! Big or small!

If we can teach our children to notice and celebrate those small moments of success in their own lives, I believe they’ll be happier, more successful and less anxious people! After all, succeeding is FANTASTIC!

Let’s wrap it up…

I love my job as a teacher! I get to interact with and build relationships with so many different types of children. For whatever reason – and there are many possibilities – anxiety seems to be on the increase in children. Some things that cause anxiety and stress are out of our control as parents, and out of our children’s control. Anxiety and stress about exams is something we can control, to some extent. So let’s do it! 

Here’s a summary of those 5 top tips:

  1. Make the decision to get it done!
  2. Break your work into smaller more manageable tasks
  3. Make a realistic to-do list 
  4. Start with something!
  5. Celebrate your successes

It’s FREEBIE time again! Yay!

I have designed a simple set of STUDY TO-DO LIST TEMPLATES just for you. This will save you a HEAP of time and you will have something easy to work from in helping your child get organized! I’ve even included two color options so you can choose which your child would enjoy more 😉

(I’ve also included an example of how to split up the work in the template! Sometimes its tough to visualise what the author was thinking when it comes to printables – so I hope this will help!)

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *