As we approach exam season, a lot of scholars are under immense pressure to perform well, especially after the year and the current pandemic at hand.
From a very young age, school-going children learn to see their worth in a percentage marked on a piece of paper at the end of the year. This percentage is comparable amongst peers and children are ridiculed and cast out of social circles if they don’t meet current standards. Siblings feel under pressure to outperform one another. Exam stress comes from all sides, and it’s quietly killing the future leaders of our country. Depression spikes over this period and suicide rates among teens rise significantly.
Parents deal with their form of exam stress where they continuously worry about their kids in terms of health as well as academic performance. But the bottom line doesn’t have to be a tragic one. Children need help to cope with the stress related to exams, and it’s up to those of us who’ve been there – and survived it – to give it to them.
As a parent, your main goal is to see your child be well and do well. The two are not mutually exclusive. To help alleviate exam stress, parents should take an active role in assisting their children in making it through in one piece. Identify ways in which your child enjoys studying and put strategies in place that speak to that. Dedicate a quiet area in the home, or if they prefer to be in their bedroom, ensure the house is free of visitors and other distractions that might cause distress.
Work to make their studying area as comfortable as possible – good lighting and a comfy chair can go a long way. Be curious. Children often feel excessively isolated during exam times, and parents can help by asking about their work. Tell them to “teach” you what they’re revising. This method will help them understand their work, build their confidence in their knowledge, and also make them feel less alone. Be present. When your child is studying, parents need to allocate break times to avoid information overload or study burnout.
Children will easily hole up in their bedrooms for hours on end. Make sure they have nutritious snacks available to keep their brain and energy levels up when they need it and encourage sufficient sleep. Rest for the mind and body is more critical than late-night cramming sessions, and will bring better results too.
For kids embarking on a study period, there are few things they can do to guarantee it goes well. Let them start with a clear plan. A study timetable with clearly marked breaks is a great place to start. They should set goals and rewards for each session, e.g. goal = finish revising three chapters, and reward = get to check Facebook for 10 minutes. As counterproductive as it might seem at first, relaxation is key to an excellent study program. Meditation can help clear the mind and prepare it to retain more information.
Going outside for a walk will keep your body from feeling sluggish, and the fresh air always helps too. On breaks, try to stay away from new information, like social media and TV. Spend social time with family and friends instead. Introduce a balanced and nutritious diet during study periods and ensure that a healthy sleep pattern is inclusive in routine. Relaxing music helps concentration levels during the study session, and classical music is a relaxing background for even the most gruelling of subjects.
Encourage kids to use bright colours in their study notes to assist with memory, but also to beat the bland by stimulating the mind to create colourful pictures. This method dramatically helps with memory retention.
The critical thing to remember is to establish a healthy culture of learning and achievement with children. Emphasize that everyone has their strengths and are by no means defined by whatever weaknesses they might have. Failure is a part of life and can be a learning curve. Anyone who’s achieved something significant in history didn’t do so without a few stumbling blocks along the way.
The trick is to keep getting up and keep moving forward.
Good students perform well due to their study habits. They apply these habits to all of their classes which is the secret to their success.
Good study skills will increase your child’s confidence, competence and self-esteem. Practical study skills mean your child can cut back on study time to enjoy the other things in life. Below we will give you some insight into study habits your child can use to ace their exam.
Study time is any time your child needs to take care of schoolwork. It can be reading assignments, working on a project or study for a test. Schedule specific times for studying during the week so that your child has a set time which forms a routine.
If your child tries to study everything in one session, it will undoubtedly tire him/her out. As a result, they’ll lose the effectiveness of their study session. Instead, show them how to break down the study work into sections and cut study sessions down to shorter periods. Taking frequent short breaks will restore their mental energy.
Setting a fixed time to study encourages a healthy routine and lets your child know that now is the time to learn. A routine gives your child the chance to mentally prepare for the task at hand, which promotes a better-focused session of studying.
Goals will help your child to stay focused and monitors their progress. Study Goals will help your child achieve a meaningful study session. Sitting down and aimlessly studying holds no benefit, so encourage your child to set study goals before the study session starts.
Procrastination leads to delays. If your child is procrastinating, they will find it challenging to begin. Eventually, this turns into rushed study work and a lot of unnecessary errors. If your child starts studying when they planned, they have more than enough time to go through their work with diligence.
A balanced diet is vital for focus and your child’s health. Eating healthy during an exam can alleviate stress and help your child feel well during the stressful exam period. Avoid high-fat, high-sugar content drinks as well as caffeine. These all contribute to hyperactivity, moodiness and irritability.
When it comes to sleep, we all know that a good night’s rest improves thinking and concentration. Most adolescents require between 8 and 10 hours of sleep a night. Allow your child to have some downtime before they go to bed. Cramming all night before the day of the exam is usually a bad idea. Sufficient sleep before the exam will have tremendous benefits on the day of the exam.
Studies have shown that during exam times, children feel more pressure from family. Listen to your child, give advice but avoid criticism. On the day of their exam, be reassuring and positive. Let your child know that failing is not the end of the world; however, it’s not encouraged. After each exam, talk to your child about their experience. Avoid focusing on the questions they found hard, instead focus on the problems they found comfortable.
Then move on and shift the focus to the next test that lies ahead. Some adolescents feel much better when exams are finally over, but that’s not the case for everyone. Get your child help if their anxiety or low mood continues after the exam. Seeing a GP might be an excellent place to start.
Believing in yourself will carry you much further than anything else, especially when dealing with exam stress. And when children know that their parents believe in them too, it makes all the difference. The belief means as parents; We have to take an active role in our children’s education, particularly around the time of exams.
Be vigilant about their behaviour so that you can spot the signs that they are over-stressed. Things like negative changes in their behaviour – becoming withdrawn, not sleeping or eating enough, being irritable and quick to anger, and tearfulness are some of the signs that your child is stressed out and not coping well. They might also frequently complain about feeling ill with a stomach ache or headache and could start acting out in ways that are not characteristic of their usual selves.
If you suspect your child might be struggling with stress, contact us at ZwavelStream Clinic for more information and treatment. Taking the first steps to help will get you and your child on the road to healthy coping strategies for exam stress.