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Supporting Children Through Their SATs: A Counsellor’s Guide




In recent weeks, a recurring theme has emerged in the therapy room: the anxiety and stress associated with SATs. As children approach these pivotal exams, the emotional toll becomes evident, affecting not just the students but their entire families. As a counsellor and the founder of Stable Minds, I’m committed to helping families manage these challenges. Here, I share some strategies that focus on emotional well-being to support your child through the SATs period.


Understanding the Stress


Recognising the natural stress response to such significant exams is crucial. The SATs can feel overwhelming due to their role in academic progression. It’s important to validate your child’s feelings and reassure them that it’s normal to feel anxious about upcoming tests.


Establishing a Routine


Creating a consistent routine can provide a comforting sense of control and security. Help your child by developing a structured study timetable that includes plenty of breaks. This not only aids concentration but also helps prevent burnout by clearly defining when to study and when to relax.


Creating a Positive Environment


The environment in which your child studies can greatly affect their concentration and stress levels. Help them set up a quiet, comfortable study area free from distractions. Personal touches, like favourite plants or soothing pictures, can make the space more inviting and calming.


Encouraging Healthy Habits


Physical health plays a key role in managing stress and maintaining focus. Encourage your child to engage in regular physical activity, which is an excellent stress reliever. Additionally, ensure they eat well and get plenty of sleep to support their mental and physical energy.


Teaching Relaxation Techniques


Introducing simple relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises or mindfulness, can make a significant difference in stress management. These methods can help your child stay calm and collected, especially right before and during exams.


Maintaining Open Communication


Keep communication lines open with your child. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and concerns regarding the SATs, as discussing worries can often reduce their impact.


Setting Realistic Expectations


Assist your child in setting realistic goals that reflect their abilities and efforts rather than external pressures. This approach helps maintain motivation and encourages a positive mindset.


Celebrating Effort Over Results


It’s vital to recognize the effort your child puts into their preparation. Celebrating the work they do, regardless of outcomes, builds confidence and underscores the value of diligence and perseverance.


Preparing for Exam Day


Make sure your child has everything they need for the exam day ready beforehand, such as stationery and a water bottle. Reviewing this checklist together can minimize anxiety about forgetting something essential.


Post-Exam Support


Encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy after the exams. This downtime is essential for them to unwind and reflects that their worth transcends their academic performance.


Remembering What SATs Don't Measure


It’s important to remember that SATs do not measure everything. Traits like creativity, kindness, resilience, and the ability to uplift others are just as important but are not reflected in these exams.


A Poem to Share


Here’s a poem to remind your child of their worth beyond their academic achievements:


More Than a Score


In a world full of numbers and grades so tight,

Remember, my dear, you are a light.

Not defined by a score or a mark on a page,

Your story’s much more than a numeric gauge.


With laughter and dreams, kindness and play,

You bring joy to the world in your own special way.

No test can measure the gold in your heart,

Nor the magic inside you, right from the start.


So take that test, do your best, it’s true,

But remember, my child, it doesn’t define you.

You’re more than a score, more than a grade,

You’re my star in the dark, beautifully made.


By focusing on your child’s emotional well-being during the SATs, you can help them navigate this challenging time with greater resilience and confidence. Remember, these exams are just one part of their broader educational journey and not a definitive measure of their abilities or worth. If stress becomes overwhelming, do not hesitate to seek additional support from a professional counsellor.


Milly



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