Exam Nerves – and how to help
Are your kids just beginning to sit their exams.
Tips to support your children through their exams
There are lots of times in life when we are facing big stressful events. Having exams is no different. It is a big stressful event in their life and maybe yours as well. A time when often children feel they are judged just by their ability. The thing is exams do not define who they are and if they should fail their exams it does not make them a failure. Generally in life you learn more when things go wrong than when they go right!
Try to get your kids to shift their thinking
Get your kids to approach exams the same way they would approach something which was fun and important to them. This could be a sporting fixture, a special party or a holiday.
Help them to focus on the “end game” e.g. the exams will be over in a couple of weeks and then they will be able to ……(do whatever it is they are missing out on…..) So that means preparation for the event.
Create a revision timetable and adopt a daily routine
- Suggest they organise themselves a revision routine.
- Talk to them about what you might be able to do to help
- Print this post off and put it somewhere they can read it
You might also want to take a look at the following websites or suggest your kids visit them too: The Mix and NHS. Both websites provide excellent advice around exam stress.
Revision pointers to help concentration
- Avoid getting over-tired. No one can concentrate when they are tired.
- Work in short manageable bursts.
- Don’t start working very early in the morning (this can lead to anxiety) or late in the evenings (leads to becoming over tired and may lead to being unable to sleep).
- Take regular breaks and do something different. Ideally physical. Dance to music, take a walk.
- Try to avoid very late nights.
- Study in a well-lit room, or near a window.
- Make sure you get outside as often as you can for fresh air.
- Best times to study are 9:00am to 12am and 4.00 pm to 6:00 pm (although I have to say my kids do not stick to these times at all).
- Worst times: after lunch 1:00pm to 3:00pm as body clock is sluggish and at night.
- Keep in take of sugar down. Too much sugar lowers blood sugar level, makes you sleepy, and makes you need more! ‘Energy’ sweets are especially bad for this.
- Cut down on caffeine – in short-term caffeine makes you feel more alert, but large doses lead to insomnia and increased tension/anxiety.
- Avoid too many carbohydrates (from potatoes, pasta, rice, bread) just before busy revision spells or exams, as these food make you sleepy.
- Do not diet while doing exams. Being hungry may lead to lack of concentration.
Spoil them a bit
Not sure what the experts would make of this advice – but the following worked for us in times of stress, upset or exhaustion. My kids love Horlicks and hot chocolate made with real dark chocolate. These comforting drinks and treats serve two purposes. Firstly, they pep them up a bit, and secondly they show them we care. Sometimes this can work a lot better than talking to stressed adolescents.
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