With the end of the Easter holidays approaching, many students (and their parents) will start thinking about the upcoming exam season. Around this time of year, we are often contacted by parents who are worried their child might not have enough time for their regular extracurricular activities alongside exam preparation. This is, of course, very understandable: everyone wants their child to do as well in their exams as they possibly can. But did you know that taking part in physical exercise or working on a creative project can actually benefit your child in their academic education? Undertaking artistic activities, like learning a song or coming up with a scene for a play, engages different parts of the brain than the ones your child normally uses at school. In other words, it’s a proper workout for the mind. And physical exercise, like dancing, stimulates blood and oxygen flowing to the brain for a real wake-up call.
So, with exams coming up, it’s especially important for your child to make time for other activities outside of their studying. But, in the spirit of a drama school, we also looked at other top tips from the performing arts world that will give your child that extra bit of help in their exam preparation.
Of course, your child needs plenty of time to study, but spending too long with their books can actually be a disadvantage. Constantly concentrating on the upcoming exams can make your child nervous, and attending a regular class that they enjoy can be an enjoyable way to relax and take their mind off school for a while. After a long day of studying, it can be a nice reward for their hard work as well.
Staying focussed for long periods at a time is hard enough for grownups, let alone for kids. Encourage your child to take regular breaks of about five to ten minutes. A good way to shake things up a little between study session is to do some stretching: it energises both the body and the mind! Breathing exercises can help as well, particularly if your child is feeling anxious about the upcoming exams. Try box breathing: breathe in for four seconds, hold for four, breathe out for four and hold for four again. A quick refresher like that makes it a lot easier to study efficiently afterwards.
Get the right study fuel
Any professional performer will tell you that you need to put fuel your body with the right things to keep it working properly, and that goes for the mind just as well! Staying hydrated is very important, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water. Skipping breakfast on exam days is a big no no; there are lots of foods that aid concentration. Try a sandwich with peanut butter and banana, for example, or scrambled eggs on toast.
When your child needs to get a lot of studying done in a short time, adding variety will help to keep things interesting. Mix solo study sessions up with the occasional study group with friends. Whether learning lines for a play or cramming for an exam, having someone there who can quiz you can be a big help.
It’s a mistake many make, but studying through the night before a big test doesn’t do anyone any favours. It’s much better to make sure your child gets enough sleep, because the brain needs those hours of rest to process all the information that’s been stuffed into it during the day. And your child needs to feel awake and rested to be able to give their best possible performance on the big day.