Posted in SATs, Uncategorized, Year 6

Aargghh! SATs Stress!

SATs week is nearly upon us – Key Stage 2 SATs (that’s Year 6) will begin on Monday 13th May with the SPaG tests (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar), with the reading test on Tuesday 14th May, Maths Papers 1 and 2 (Arithmetic and Reasoning 1) on Wednesday 15th May and the final Maths Reasoning paper on Thursday 16th May.  Key Stage 1 SATs (that’s Year 2) will also take place in May, but the exact week will be set by individual schools.  The phonics check test for Key Stage 1 will be on or after Monday 10th June.

This can be a highly emotionally charged time for our kids.  Even if you have a very calm child (The Teen wasn’t worried about the tests themselves as he liked working on his own in silence!) the anxiety other children may feel can also influence them (I once had to go in to school to calm down The Teen who was hyperventilating and shaking because so many of his friends and peers were upset and worried).

So how can we help them? Here’s a few ways!

Affirmations

Teaching our kids positive affirmations can help their self-esteem.  Keeping the affirmations short and snappy and getting them to repeat them after you say them, or write them down on a post it note or diary/journal may encourage resilience.  I’m sharing some affirmations every day over on Instagram this May!

Listen

We can listen without judgment, or without trying to solve the problem for them – being able to vocalise their worries can be incredibly valuable to a child.  It is really important to try to JUST listen – I know we all want to jump in with our views on what needs to be done to help because we just want to make it better but knowing that we will listen without interrupting can really help our kids to open up!

Praise

Give as much praise and encouragement as you can – about anything you can! 

“Thanks for emptying your lunchbox, that’s a big help!”

“I’m incredibly proud of you for …”

“I love being your mum/dad/family member…”

“I missed you while you were at school/while I was at work today…”

Sleep

Sleep is SOOOO important!  Having a lack of sleep not only contributes towards low mood and anxiety, it’s not going to help them concentrate during these last days of revision or during the exams!  Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep, and that they are getting some time away from the ever-present tablets and phones they are so often glued to.  Getting to bed a bit earlier but having time to read is a fantastic way to help them relax. 

Keeping it calm

Yes, they’ve left their dirty clothes in a pile on the floor again.  Give them a bit of slack – choose your battles wisely over the next couple of weeks and try not to react if they are more irritable than normal.

Roll with the differences

They might be more clingy than normal, or they might isolate themselves more than normal.  Check in with them regularly – a quick “Do you need anything?” will reassure them you’re there for them.

Have something to look forward to

You might want to do a countdown to a summer holiday, or get them involved in planning a day trip or meal out for after the exams.

Journaling

Some children may find that writing a diary or a journal can help with anxiety.  Being able to write down their worries or fears can be a way to vent their emotions safely. 

Outside interests and friends

If your child wants to keep up with their outside interests or their friends outside of school, this is a great way to take their minds off their current worries.

Eat healthily

Yes, I know that getting vitamins into some children is like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle (how The Tween has managed to survive considering his idea of five a day is the number of chicken nuggets he wants to eat is beyond me) but eating well really helps with feeling good and using their brain!  Although they might not feel like eating before their exams, encourage them to eat breakfast! 

Try some relaxation techniques

Laughter, stretching, deep breathing, exercising, listening to music and meditating are all activities that increase the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains.  You might like to try some of these together (The Teen has just read this over my shoulder and said, “Fat chance, mother!” but perhaps your child is less contrary than mine is!)I

Here’s hoping we all get through this SATs season as unscathed as possible!

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Posted in Mental Health, Uncategorized

Mental Health in May!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States – and it’s seventy  years since it was first started in all the way back in 1949.  Here in the UK, we are coming up to Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts on Monday 13th May – ironically, this is also SATs week for our Key Stage Two kids, when they are likely to be more stressed than usual!

As parents, we feel confident in picking up our children when they fall – putting plasters on grazed knees, soothing away nightmares, giving Calpol for a fever, but dealing with their mental health can be frightening and make us feel helpless.

Throughout May I’ll be sharing hints, tips and resources to help YOU help your child if they are becoming anxious or worrying about school, friendships, bullying, loneliness, body image, exams, the new school year and new classes/schools. 

And remember – mild anxiety and worries are normal parts of life for all of us, adults and children alike.  But if you think your child is at risk of harming themselves, or are constantly struggling with anxiety, low mood or depression, please reach out for help: