When your child is preparing for the 11 plus exam, it can be a scary time - for you as well. The pressures created from just a single test result which will determine the next academic step for your child, can lead to worry, anxiety and even mental health problems.
Research has been done to show that it is not just older children or those at university who can severely suffer from these problems. One study discovered that a shocking 82% of primary school staff members reported that their students showed decaying mental health during exam periods.
Specifically, 78% of primary school leaders stated that they had seen a rise in panic attacks, anxiety and stress. They believed that this was down to fear of failing their tests over anything else. It goes to show how much pressure primary school children also face to pass exams.
Although there is no getting around the exams themselves, especially if you want to go to a Grammar School, there are ways that you and your child can cope with the pressure. Using mindfulness techniques is one of the best. Read on to discover some mindfulness exercises that you could introduce into your child’s 11 plus exam study schedule.
Differences Between Adult and Child Mindfulness Exercises
Not all mindfulness techniques are applicable to children. Their shorter attention spans make some mindfulness exercises difficult and they are unlikely to get results. What you do at your weekly meditation class is not always going to work here.
For that reason, some mindfulness exercises for children don’t always look like mindfulness activities - and some even border on play activities. However, if the activity can take the child’s mind away from exams and the accompanying stress, as well as to help them relax, they can work as mindfulness techniques.
The Best Mindfulness Activities for Kids
Getting your child to practice any of the below techniques will require encouragement. One of the best ways to encourage your child to try any of these techniques is for you to join in. On top of that, explain why the techniques are beneficial to their study and how it will help them to prepare for the exam. Concealing the purpose of the techniques may decrease the motivation for them to give it a try.
#1: Superhero Posing
Meditation and mindfulness exercises often require us to stay still and focus our mind. Getting your child to stay still may seem like an impossible task but it can be done with a sprinkle of superheroes.
Both of you can make superhero poses during study breaks, even for just a short while. By making these poses can help your child feel strong, brave and all the other superlatives associated with being a superhero - ultimately giving them increased confidence.
#2: The Mindfulness Jar
The mindfulness jar exercise is one of the most hands-on which makes it perfect for kids. First you take a jar filled to the brim with water and then with your child present, add a spoonful of glitter. Next, ask the child to shake it as hard as they can. This will help them release some energy and possibly some exam frustration.
The jar of water will suddenly fill up with glitter swirling around before settling again at the bottom of the jar. You can use this process as a way to teach your child how sometimes our minds get really full of different things and in order to see clearly again, we must slow down and stop what we are doing.
#3: Bubble Blowing
A simpler mindfulness activity for children that will not require as much preparation are bubbles blowing. Most kids enjoy making bubbles as they run around the garden or chase their friends. When using bubble blowing for mindfulness and relaxation, you and your child must sit together somewhere peaceful, maybe a park or somewhere in nature.
Sitting still and quietly, take it in turn to blow bubbles into the air, watching them disappear or pop in the distance. During this exercise, you can ask your child to clear their mind or think about something they want to do in the future which is not school-related.
Top Tips for Practicing Mindfulness with Kids
Most parents will already know that getting their child to practice mindfulness techniques with them will be difficult. After all, being aware of our thoughts is a mature thing to be able to do. The best advice to parents introducing mindfulness with their children for the first time is to time it right.
It will be much harder to practice mindfulness exercises when your child is buzzing with energy and wants to go and play with their friends. Often, initial exercises should be done when they are low on energy, such as just before bedtime or after a bath. Other ways to make mindfulness exercises work with your kids are:
- Remember to explain what mindfulness is and the purpose of it, using simple words that children will understand.
- Always do mindfulness exercises together so they stay on track and so they feel it is more of an activity than a chore.
- End the mindfulness session with something they enjoy doing, maybe an art and craft exercise or something similar and calming.
Other Ways to Reduce Exam Stress
Mindfulness is not the only way to protect your child from exhaustion and exam anxiety. Preparing for the exam in an effective way will give them confidence that they can pass the exam and make it something they relish rather than worry about.
For parents, knowing how to prepare for a specific and often confusing exam like the 11 plus assessment can be tough. Turning to private 11 plus exam tutors is one option but they can be expensive and not always work around your family’s schedule.A better option is a tailored 11 plus exam course that you and your child can access online at any time. The 11 plus course at 11 Plus Success is tailor made for the four components of the exam and works around after school clubs and parents’ schedules. Try our free practice paper today and contact our friendly team if you have any questions.