When children need to prepare for their next test, we often forget that studying is just one part of the equation. Studying might be important to a child’s success in class, but it is probably the last piece of the equation they need to worry about. As a parent, you can help them be ready for whatever academic trial lies ahead by focusing on their mental health. Take care of their mind and kids will have an easier time grasping the concepts they are supposed to be learning.
There are a few easy ways to ensure that your children have everything they need to succeed on their own.
Stress is the worst thing for a child’s mind, especially when it comes time for them to study. Help them preserve a positive study experience by ensuring that they are ahead of their test. The first thing you need to remember is that cramming isn’t an effective means of learning more. It’s just a really good way of tiring your mind and wasting precious time. Introduce a better way to study by having them start well in advance of any incoming test. The more time they have, the less intense each study session has to be, and the better their chances are of retaining what they learn.
Allow them to break down their test material into manageable chunks, instead of all at one time. Rather than studying for several hours straight, they can do it in intervals, since distributing learning over a longer period of time typically benefits long-term retention. Maybe they can study in 20-50 minute increments with 5-10 minutes in between to keep mental exhaustion to a minimum. A great way to help your child avoid cramming is to encourage them to start studying days before their test. If they start three days prior, they can study for an hour the first night, 50 minutes the second night, and then take 30 minutes to quickly go over the material the day before the test.
As much as you might want your child to study hard and often, it doesn’t benefit them if they are too mentally exhausted to retain anything they have looked at by the time the test comes around. Managing study time can help your child feel refreshed and will benefit their ability to recollect information in class.
Control What They Eat
An easy way to prepare your child’s mind for learning is to provide them with all the right food they need. The proper nutrition can have a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical health. You can prepare the food they eat based on how soon their test is. We know that it’s important to have a healthy breakfast the day of the test, but were you also aware that it matter what they eat weeks in advance too?
Many studies have been conducted on the role that nutrition has on the mind when it comes to learning and studying. It has been shown that students who eat high-fat, low-carb foods with heavy amounts of meat, eggs, cheese, and cream are more likely to see a decline in performance. Students with a balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables are more likely to maintain the level head needed to succeed in the classroom.
When you study, your brain consumes glucose, so it’s a good idea to allow your child to take a five minute break for every hour that they study. Eating a healthy snack during this time, like almonds, fruit, and yogurt, can help the body to produce more fuel to feed their study session. On the day of the test, make sure they leave the house with high-carb, high-fiber, slowly-digesting food in their belly. Oatmeal offers a far more fulfilling meal than cereal.
Down Time is Important
As previously stated, your child needs downtime in between study sessions. Pressing the mind too hard can do more harm than good, especially when it comes to kids. Give your child the breaks they need, ensuring they get enough sleep is an important step in preparing them for the upcoming test.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that school-age children need a varied amount of sleep depending on their age. Children between the ages of 3-5 need 10-13 hours of sleep each night. Kids 6-13 years old will need 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers between 14-17 need 8-10 hours of sleep. Younger adults from 18-25 years old will need 7-9 hours. If your child isn’t able to get the proper amount of sleep each night, it can impact their attention span, memory, energy level, and even increase the risk of illness.
To help ensure that they are able to get settled at night, create a bedtime routine that will help prepare their bodies for sleep. This means no screens a half hour before bedtime because the light can prevent their minds from settling down for the night. The better rest they receive, the more prepared they are to face the schoolwork that awaits them when they wake up.
Physical Exercise is Mental Exercise
Don’t underestimate the role that physical exercise has on the human mind. Encouraging your child to get out of the house can help them eliminate stress and get the study break they need, while also helping to improve their mental faculties. You can consider extracurricular activities, like sports, as part of their studies, because they help them mentally prepare for what they will need to learn, understand, and remember.
Increasing blood flow increases the amount of oxygen and glucose in the body, which is essential to brain growth, mood regulation, and learning. It has been proven that regular exercise can improve memory and focus, release tension in the body, and generally make you a more productive person. Support them when it comes to their books, but also ensure that they focus enough attention on their mind and body.