Thriving in SATs week: Activities for stress-relief

April 22, 2022

The SATs are back! Does that make you groan a little or get sweaty palms knowing that your child will find this experience tough? Never fear, we’re here with some top tips for SATs week to help children de-stress and focus. From getting outside to eating stimulating brain food – let’s help them thrive this SATs week!


Mother and child running outside during SATs week


When is SATs week 2022?

KS1 and KS2 SATs tests take place in May 2022.

2022 KS1 SATs for children in year 2 happen in a very low-key way throughout the month during normal lesson time. There is no fixed testing period. Some children won’t even be aware that they’ve taken them. This is the last year that they will be compulsory in all schools. In 2023 these exams will become optional.

SATs week for children in year 6 is from Monday 9th May 2022 until Thursday 12th May. 

Children throughout England will sit their exams, set by the Department of Education, at the same time. For many, this is the first time that they will have sat a formal exam. This can feel daunting and as a parent, may bring back memories of exam nerves when we were at school. Your school will have given your child ample SATs preparation so that they are familiar with the process and access to SATs resources such as past KS2 SATS papers and the style of questions. Nothing should be a surprise. 


Mock SATs week

When your child comes to sit their actual 2022 SATs papers they will have practised this process multiple times. Your teacher’s goal is for every pupil to know exactly what to expect when sitting the SATs. Most schools will run more than one mock SATs week. Often at the end of Year 5 and early on in the Spring term. Your child will know which classroom they will be sitting in and the time they will have to complete each test.


KS2 SATS week

Here are the key dates for children sitting the year 6 SATs papers in 2022:

Monday 9 May 2022 English spelling, punctuation and grammar – Paper 1 and Paper 2
Tuesday 10 May 2022 English Reading
Wednesday 11 May 2022 Maths SATS Paper 1 (Arithmetic)

Maths Paper 2 (Reasoning)

Thursday 12 May 2022 Maths Paper 3 (Reasoning)


The SATs results for KS2 Maths and English are normally included in the end of year school report. The results for KS1 are not published but you can ask the school at the end of the summer term if you’d like to find out about them. KS1 SATS are teacher assessed while KS2 exams are marked externally. 


Stress-busting SATs week activities

First it’s good to take the pressure off and understand the reasons why we should keep calm about SATs week.


Why we shouldn’t worry about the SATS

  1. It’s important to remember that the SATs are a measure of your child’s schooling so far. They are a tool for the government to understand the national landscape of children’s learning and assess the national curriculum which is particularly important in our post-lockdown world.
  2. They will not, as some SATs myths suggest, affect your child’s secondary school admission, the sets they are placed in secondary school or the activities they will have to do for the remainder of Year 6.
  3. SATs are an opportunity for your child to experience an ‘exam-style’ environment in a safe and nurturing school. This is great practice for the step up to secondary where testing is much more frequent.
  4. They can also be seen as a right of passage for Year 6 pupils marking the culmination of many years of hard work through their Primary school. Once the SATs are over many schools plan residential trips, sports events and put on theatre productions that children can really enjoy with the exams out the way.


Top tips for stress-free SATs week

Even though we can reason why our children shouldn’t get stressed, that doesn’t mean they won’t experience pre-exam nerves and anxiety. Every child is different and sometimes nerves can hit when you least expect it.

Here are some top tips for helping your children to thrive during the week.

SATs Breakfast

Our brains need the best kind of fuel during exams. It’s especially important to have breakfast – in fact your school may run a breakfast club especially for the exams and I highly recommend taking part in this. Not only will your child get some good nutrients in their system, it gives them time to talk with their friends and feel calm before the exams start.


Family eating a healthy breakfast together


Brain food

You can look to include ingredients in your evening meals or after school snacks this week that will boost brain power.


Post school snack – Apple slices with peanut butter dip 

Nuts are an extremely good brain food containing lots of healthy fats and protein per serving. If your child can eat them then after school is a great way to boost this element of their diet and peanut butter tastes amazing with a slice of apple. Fresh fruit is the best way to provide a sugar boost rather than a chocolate bar.


Evening meal – Fish, eggs and greens

I know these ingredients won’t appear on the favourite food list of many 10 year olds but they all contain vital vitamins for keeping the brain functioning at its best. Try an omelette with smoked salmon and broccoli on the side. A tuna salad with a boiled egg and green beans. Sardines on toast with crispy kale.


Drinks – water or green tea

Avoid high energy, sugary drinks. Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water as a dehydrated brain really struggles to function. Green tea is a good option for boosting concentration as well as providing healthy anti-oxidants.


Get into nature

Spend some time outside each afternoon. If you’re able, head to a green space near by – a park, or woodland walk and take time to listen and notice the plants, birds and nature around you. This is a great way for your whole family to stay grounded and to have a break from the classroom and work.


Family exercise

Whether you have a walk, run, bike ride, swim or do some yoga, exercise will make everyone feel good. Get those positive endorphins running through your child’s body at the end of the day so that they can wind down and sleep well when bedtime arrives.


Time to talk

If you can manage your schedule to be available each afternoon following the exams this will help you judge how the day is gone. Try and give 15 minutes uninterrupted time to allow your child to talk about how they are feeling after the school day. Try not to fill in the silences and hopefully they can release any concerns they have.



A good bedtime routine will help your child get the sleep they need. Read together and avoid screen time in the hour before bed. Have everything ready for the morning and aim to be in bed before 9pm.


And of course celebrate!

Plan something fun that you will do together when the exams are over. Whether it’s going to see a movie, a meal out or a trip somewhere at the weekend. It’s great to have this booked in the diary so that however tough the week may feel there is the promise of fun times at the end. Relax and enjoy – you will have both earned it!

For more support throughout the SATs and your child’s journey into secondary school, look no further than Explore Learning’s award-winning tuition. Visit one of our local learning centres or attend a trial session online to find out more.

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