How to keep kids feeling calm during SATs

How to keep kids feeling calm during SATs



In Year 2 very few children would have been aware they were taking their SATs and consequently they will have taken being tested in their stride. 

Year 6 SATs are different. 

Year 6 students are usually aware of their SATs looming and will have been practising and prepping in school.  

It will probably be the first formal exam experience your child will be aware of and so it can feel intense. 

Let’s look at how to make their experience as stress-free as possible.  


Offer low key support and encouragement 

Do tell them not to worry about them, and that doing their best effort is all anyone wants or expects. Let them know this isn’t a one off and that at secondary school they will be tested regularly so they just need to relax about it and get used to it. 

This may feel common sense to you but remember they won’t have been in this situation before and need to hear their best is always good enough. 


Feelings are contagious 

Being around calm and positive people will help your child stay calm and positive, so do manage your own nerves and frustrations around the SATs. Work extra hard to keep a peaceful atmosphere around your child during this time. 

They will take a positive and relaxed approach from you as an indicator of how to approach the experience themselves 



Children perform best when they are relaxed and confident.  

Perpetration and revision will take place at school, but your child may want to do some more at home. Collins have a wonderful range of guides from practice workbooks, study books and question books.  

Being familiar with what is expected and fully prepped can be very reassuring to some kids and ease their nerves substantially. This will boost their confidence and help them approach their tests more calmly.  The calmer they are the better they will perform as IQ rises as stress decreases. 



Good sleep helps kids consolidate what them learned during the day, it also helps them focus and learn more when they wake up. But most importantly good sleep helps kids feel happier and healthier. 

Make sure their sleep routine remains a priority during their SATs and that they empty their head of worries and have time to relax before they go to bed.   


Time to talk  

Do talk about the SATs with your child rather than pretend they aren’t happening because they will inevitably be on their mind. Avoiding the issue or pretending them away won’t change that.   

Normalise exam nerves by telling them about your own experiences and things you found helpful. 

Give them opportunities to talk over how they feel in the run up to the SATs and to ask if they need extra help or have any questions. Getting their feelings out rather than bottling them up will reduce the stress they feel and the tension they are holding in their bodies. 


Calm down tools   

And finally, if your child gets anxious in a test situation give them a couple of tools to help them on the day. Just knowing they have them up their sleeve will make them feel more in control. Here are 2 that might help  

Slower breathing 

When we panic, we tend to breath quickly and this tells our brain there is something to worry about, this clouds the ability to think clearly. Teach your child to slow their breathing down by practicing 555 breathing like this: 

Breathe in slowly through their nose for 5 seconds, then out very slowly through the mouth for 5 seconds: Wait for 5 seconds then do it one more time. 

Encourage them to practice this beforehand so they know how it works. 

Positive affirmations 

An affirmation is a positive statement we give ourselves to overcome negative thoughts. Some that could work well in an exam situation include:  

I can do this 

I can try my best 

I can cope 

Have your child pick one of the above phrases to repeat to themselves if they start to get flustered in their exam. This will drown out any negative self-talk and revive their ‘can do’ attitude. Which in turn will help them feel more positive and confidant. They may want to practice their affirmation in the days running up to the exam to get comfortable saying it.   


Lifelong learning 

By being a positive role model, facilitating time to talk, encouraging good sleep providing a supportive environment and giving your child some calm down tools, you will have helped them face their assessment with calm, confident positivity. 

Being able to manage testing situations is a life skill your child will need and putting in the effort now to help them cope can make a real difference long term. 


Discover more SATs support from Collins


About the author

This article has been written by parenting blogger, co-author of Create Your Own Happy and author of Create Your Own Calm and Create Your Own Kindness, Becky Goddard-Hill.

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