Preparing for tests can be hard for anyone. Studying when you have ADHD can be even harder. But there are ways in which parents can help their children overcome these difficulties when it comes to test and exam time.
Children with attention deficits may struggle to sit still. They could be distracted by slight noises in an otherwise quiet room, or they may have difficulty focusing on learning for the test, or on the test itself. The concerns are as varied as the children with ADD or ADHD, but parents and teachers can work together to find a solution for each individual child.
Here are some tips to grow test focus and help your child prepare:
Ask for help
You or your child can speak to the teacher and see what can be done to make tests less stressful. Some things that could help may be extra time to take the test or taking the test in a separate room to avoid distractions. You could ask for guidelines – what chapters will the test cover? What sections need to be learnt and in what detail? – or extra learning material.
If your child struggles to focus, help him to prioritise tasks. You may need to sit with him at first, to help make lists, organise and structure the time before a test and divide work into manageable steps. Help him figure out what study techniques and tools work best for him, so he can start to organise his work, make notes and work through the material. Older children may work well in study groups.
Find your space
Everyone learns differently. Children with ADHD may be more inclined to pace, move or fidget while they learn. They may need a quiet space, or one with a low hum of background noise. Try to accommodate these needs as much as possible in order to help them focus and prepare for a test or exam.
Know the material
If your child is familiar with the material, there is less chance he’ll panic or go blank during the test. This means taking the time to learn the material, rather than just cramming the night before. As soon as a test date has been set, get him to start revising and learning. Don’t let him find lots of other little projects to do, which will only lead to distraction and delays. Your child may also say he knows the material, but if he doesn’t, the pressure of a test could trip him up. Encourage revision through practice tests, worksheets and quizzes.
Take a break
The length of time for which someone can concentrate varies, and what you’re concentrating on makes a difference. If your child is interested in the subject he may be able to focus for longer. But breaks are still necessary. Help him work out how long he can concentrate on the topic – maybe 15 to 30 minutes – then set a timer for a quick break, preferably to get up and move, before he hits the books again.
Eating a balanced diet and having a healthy breakfast every day (but especially on the morning of a test) is essential. Encourage exercise every day, particularly during study sessions, and make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep before any test – another good reason not to cram.
In the test
Another tip to help your child focus in a test or exam is to remind him to relax during the test. He can take deep breaths, and even short mental breaks, if he finds he’s losing focus. Also encourage him to check his answers before handing in the test, so that if he did lose his concentration, he can correct any mistakes.
For support or more information on how to deal with a child with concentration issues please contact https://www.adhasa.co.za the Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group.