DFWChild / Articles / Family Life / Teens / How to Help Your Child Study for Final Exams

How to Help Your Child Study for Final Exams

We all want our kids to do their best on their final tests of the semester, but how can we help? After all, it's been awhile since we used the quadratic formula or studied the American Revolution, and our memory of Julius Caesar is not be so hot either. It's also tough to straddle that fine line between helping and helicopter-ing when your child's success is at stake. So here are eight tips for helping your child with final exams in the best ways you can.
Help him get organized. Make sure he knows when each test is, then talk through a study schedule. Encourage him to write it down, including study breaks. This will help keep him on track. Make a copy for yourself so that you can keep him accountable by asking focused questions like "Have you started studying for chapter 3 yet?" rather than "How is the studying going?"
Set aside a study space just for him. Some kids like to study in the middle of the kitchen while others prefer to hole up in their rooms. Whatever your child's study preference, make sure the whole family respects his space and doesn't provide distractions. Sometimes the best thing you can do to help him focus is to leave him alone.
Let him teach you the material. The more your child interacts with the material, the better he'll learn it, and talking through the information out loud will reveal the gaps in his knowledge. But it's a lot easier to teach to a person than a mirror. Encourage your child to speak up by asking, "Can you tell me about the War of 1812?" or "Can you show me how to solve an equation?" You don't need to know the material well yourself to see where your child stumbles or slows.
Offer to quiz him. If he has a review sheet or old tests to study from, he many benefit from answering the questions out loud rather than staring at them on the page, especially if he's an auditory learner. Mark the questions he misses so that he can study them again.
Make sure he takes breaks. Studying for hours on end may be what he needs to make the grade, but nobody's brain functions well like that. Make sure he steps away from his studies at least 10 minutes every hour. Encourage him to take a walk, do some exercises or eat a snack. And if he's staring at a screen to study, his study break should not be in front of a screen. Setting an alarm to count down to the next break might motivate him to study harder in between.
Keep him healthy. No matter how much studying he thinks he needs to do, make sure he gets a decent night's sleep before his tests, and don't let him walk out the door on test mornings without a solid breakfast.
Don't micromanage. This can be a toughie! Your child needs to learn to be responsible for his studies, and he may not focus well with you looking over his shoulder. Offer to help him if he needs it, but do not force yourself into his study routine or pester him endlessly about his progress. Checking in is fine – especially if you bring him a snack – but too many interruptions will hinder his productivity. And don't freak out too much if you think he's not doing enough – he may just need to learn what happens if he's unprepared.
Offer rewards. Encourage him to study hard with the promise of something special, like his favorite meal for dinner or a pass on doing the dishes. Bribery? Maybe, but we prefer to call it a motivational tool.
Published December 2013