Some kids approach exams with no nerves at all – but I think most kids find this a particularly stressful period of their lives which is not helped by the fact they are beginning to enjoy their independence, a social life and maybe relationships. All of which eat into their time and can cause conflict with school work and parents.
Parents do have a part to play in supporting kids through exams even if they aren’t able to offer much practical help.
I think a parents role is much more about emotional support. A bit of empathy, and probably not getting het up if they don’t comply with all the family rules which they are normally expected to.
The thing to remember is that although it may seem like the end of the world to your child if they don’t pass their exams – it really is not. Remind them that making a success of life is not simply just about passing exams.
There are many successful people who did not do well at school including Richard Branson and Winston Churchill – as many more lesser mortals. So make sure you help your kids keep exams in perspective.
Here are some ways that parents can help with exam stress and revision before exams.
Get your kids to approach exams the same way they would approach something which is fun and important to them. For example a a sporting fixture, a special party or a holiday. This will help them to see that they need to in embrace this time and plan for it.
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…..) Make sure they have some special event, end of term party, or trip to a theme park that they can look forward to.
Get your child to organise a revision timetable that is realistic and they can stick to. The experts suggest revising for 40 minutes revision followed by a twenty-minute break.
Take a look at these revisions tips.
If your child is feeling particularly anxious and feels they have left everything to the last-minute the following article on last-minute revision is very helpful.
Encourage the following.
- 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 they get outside as often as they 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, and will make them sleepy and just want to sleep 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 again these food make you sleepy.
- Do not diet while doing exams. Being hungry may lead to lack of concentration
- Not sure what the experts would make of this advice – but the following works for us in times of stress, upset or exhaustion. My kids love Horlicks and hot chocolate made with real dark chocolate. These comforting drinks or treats serve two purposes. One they pep them up a bit, and two show them we care. Sometimes this can work a lot better than talking to stressed adolescents.