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It’s the Exam Season!
With the exam season in, parents are as stressed as the children. And stressed out parents can create more stress for their children. The best way to support your child during the stress of revision and exams is to make home life as calm and pleasant as possible. Don’t let your stress become their stress.
Here are a few tips for parents to help your child succeed. This will not only calm you as a parent but also help the children perform well.
Stay Calm and only be a Support System
Children often get exasperated, if parents continuously tell them what to do and how to do it. This not only disturbs them but also leaves a feeling of anxiety and insecurity regarding the upcoming exams. They may lose their confidence.
Create an environment of encouragement at home
Encouragement is more powerful than praise, so keep using encouraging words and avoid any words that discourage them. Say, “I know you are very capable of working hard”, instead of “You never study”. Give positive affirmations to your children. Instil confidence in them with your frequent assurances. Help your child to develop a positive mindset by encouraging them to visualise success – this can really help with self-confidence. Play down the significance of the exams itself. Avoid statements like, ‘Your future depends on this exam’, etc.
Avoid any distractions.
Make sure that your child has a peaceful place to study. Keep noises to a minimum and keep the TV off! Teach them relaxation techniques such as listening to some gentle music, getting them to lie down, closing their eyes and taking a deep breath while visualising a calming scene. If your child is given study leave before the exams, try to be at home as much as possible so that you can share a break and a chat together. Try not to make too many demands on your child during exam time.
Don’t compare your children with other children.
This will reduce their resolve and crush their confidence. Instead, encourage them to maximise their time and potential. Know that your child has a limit and will only able to perform to the best of his/her ability. Accept their limitations. As a thumb rule don’t compare, not even if their sibling is a class topper.
Show your children that you trust and understand them
Reassure them of your love and support no matter what the outcome of exams and emphasise that this is not the be all and end all of them. Trust the children and observe what is best for them as every child is different.
Leave your old-school ideas behind.
More than a decade ago, everyone was concerned about marks, but we now realise that these marks don’t matter. If we are kinder towards exams, exams will be kinder to us. Encourage your children to enjoy the process and help them study to expand his/her knowledge. If you only focus on the grades, it puts undue pressure on them. Besides, those who do well in school may not necessarily do well in life, and the reverse is also true. So, don’t base your child’s self-worth based on these exams. Doing poorly in an exam is not a sign that they are a failure in life.
Help your children establish an effective study and learning habits.
Suggest to them to make ‘mind maps’ to collect ideas and summarise thoughts – use bright colours to help remember important links. Help them draw up a schedule to manage their time better.
Offer rewards for accomplishing specific goals.
Encourage them to plan their study goals and follow it with gentle reminders. Know your child’s exam schedule and help them plan their study timetable.
Help them maintain a balanced daily routine with adequate nutrition, exercise and sleep
Encourage your child to stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time. They need to avoid late night TV shows or movies. Motivate them to eat regularly and make time to have fun and exercise. Always encourage your child to relax before they go to bed after concentrating for long periods of time. Activities such as reading a short story may help them unwind and sleep better.
Be on a lookout for any kind of warning signs
Looking at the obvious signs like changes in appetite or sleep. Keep talking to them at regular intervals to get a sense of how they are feeling from time to time. If you notice crying/ breaking down or hear them saying things like ‘I don’t want to appear for the exam tomorrow’, it is quite likely that the child feeling extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed by the pressure. Be there for them and let them know your support does not depend on their exam marks.
Ideas for exam day
Talk to your children about these before exam day and avoid last-minute anxiety. Help your child to:
- Keep all the things they need for the day of the exam, the previous night itself. Pens, Erasers, Geometry boxes, Hall tickets and anything else they will need.
- Eat a good and light breakfast that will sustain and help them focus.
- Try to arrive at school early.
- Go to the toilet before the exam starts.
- Keep away from people who may say unhelpful, anxiety-provoking comments.
- Take time to relax when they first sit down in the exam room.
- Skim over the exam paper, underlining key words and instructions and work out how long they have for each question or section.
- Observe the wording of the questions – they need to understand and address what the question is really asking.
- Answer the questions they find easiest first to build their confidence, then as they relax more move on to more difficult ones.
- Don’t worry about how long others are taking but keep an eye on the clock to ensure they have enough time to answer the more difficult questions.
- Re-read answers if possible and make any changes that are necessary – correct spelling, check workings.
Throughout the run-up to the exams and after it is important to reassure your child that no matter what results they receive, that there are options. Give them as much encouragement and support during these times.