Tips to help you and your teenager to get through the exam/revision season with ease.
During this time of the year, exam stress can overwhelm parents and children, and it’s tough to see your child under so much pressure, as you may often feel helpless. You’re already making the necessary adjustments, but here are some tips to serve as reminders and ensure you’re doing everything you can to support your child.
My name is Shehla, and I’m a Montessori educator and the founder of Edulinxs Club – an online preschool learning program provider. As a parent of three teenagers, one doing GCSEs, one in her final year of A Levels, and one in the first year of her Degree, I have first-hand experience and am sharing some tips that have proven helpful for me, and I hope something here helps you too.
Know your options.
Support your child by discussing future options together. Often most of the stress is about the future, and your child needs to know that you will stand by them regardless of the results. This discussion was a game changer when my daughter was overwhelmed with the workload. She confessed she couldn’t manage, and we discussed all the backup plans that could come into place in case things didn’t go to plan. It was as if a big weight was lifted off her shoulders, and I had no idea this was something she couldn’t see by herself. It’s also always a good idea to keep in touch with your child’s teachers now, as they can indicate their expectations and any required action plan.
Take breaks that work.
It can be difficult to take breaks when deadlines are looming, but finding ways to share a break with someone else is helpful. Consider doing something you both enjoy, such as taking a tea break, walking, or practising yoga together.
Encouraging your child to tidy up their workspace is helpful, but sometimes it’s best to leave it as is. This is especially true when your child has important information written on Post-it notes that only they understand. If you find that ‘tidy your desk’ is too big a task for your child, do it together.
Journaling is also a helpful way for both of you to express your reflections without speaking them out loud.
Eat healthy, and stay hydrated.
Along with movement, eating healthy foods and avoiding processed food options are essential to improve mental and physical performance. My kids typically only eat fruit when it’s part of a fruit salad or smoothie, which helps keep them hydrated during warm weather and feel refreshed so they can concentrate and study effectively. You can try to have healthy ‘fast food’ available in the kitchen at all times, so they have something healthy to grab when energy is running low: cut carrots/vegetables/ fruits in the fridge, cold water with lemons slices, healthy muesli bars, bowls of berries, washed and ready to eat etc. If it is available, they are more likely to eat it.
Together, you can create a meal planner to make sure your child eats something they like and is healthy at the same time. CLICK here to download a weekly meal planner.
Sleep to rejuvenate.
Getting enough sleep is crucially important, but it’s often overlooked due to work and stress. When it’s exam season, we tend to give up our late-night Netflix binges and relax with a book and a cup of chamomile tea. This routine has helped my teenager sleep better at night, allowing her to feel refreshed and ready for the next day.
Together, create a routine where you agree to a sleep routine. Agree to when they turn off their mobiles when they go to sleep and what they need to do to get a good night’s sleep. It is so important that they are part of creating this so they feel in control and have a say over their bodies and needs.
As a parent, I often remind my children that their grades do not determine their worth; they are simply a part of the process that helps them move forward. Your child will find it comforting to know that exams and grades do not define their value despite being in a highly competitive academic world. Furthermore, a reminder that exams are only for a few weeks, if not a month more, can help them see the end in sight and that relief is on the horizon.
Why not agree that as a reward for your child completing their revision and exams, you arrange to celebrate by going out for a nice meal? Don’t wait for the results to celebrate. Instead, show them that you reward them and their efforts.
Rewards and motivation:
If they struggle to stay motivated, come up with a reward plan. This is nothing about getting good grades or not – but about rewarding their effort.
Try not to include money or a big object but more something good for them and they like or time with you.
• Small rewards: after a long day of revision, you can agree to cuddle up on the sofa with popcorn and a movie – make a nice meal at home together etc.
• Medium rewards: after a hard week’s revision, you can agree to go to the movies, or she can invite a friend to the cinema.
• Large rewards: This can be when all the revisions and exams and over (before the results come out), you can go for a special meal etc.
Make sure you create the rewards plan together to find something that motivates them.
CLICK here to read more about: should I give my child exam gifts?
But what about procrastination?
If your child faces a daunting task, like a big project or exam, they may struggle with procrastination because they feel overwhelmed by the workload. A revision plan is excellent, but it may only sometimes go according to plan. If your child needs to revise more often than they should, a deeper issue may be at play. It’s important to talk to your child to understand what’s happening. My daughter, for example, admitted that she was procrastinating because she fell behind on her revision plan and didn’t want to face the increasing workload. To help her stay motivated, we reworked her revision plan four times this summer, adjusting for topics that took longer, and it made her feel supported and encouraged.
Know the spec.
All exams have a specification, and she found it hugely helpful to print it off, annotate it and familiarise herself with what she already knew. If you help your child with this task, you don’t have to be an expert; just run by them what they feel comfortable answering in an exam. This technique helps your child to remain directed.
Tackle a past paper
If your child is stressed and finding it challenging to start revising, suggest they tackle a past paper first. This will help them assess their current level of knowledge and identify the areas they need to focus on. By reviewing the questions they got wrong, they can learn where to improve and better prepare for future exams.
Other exam techniques
Another exam technique that helped to alleviate stress for my daughter was flashcards. She made quick notes of her corrections, and I helped make flashcards on the app “Anki” to help her revise smarter. But this isn’t practical for all parents, so sometimes going for a group revision session can help friends to bounce answers off each other instead.
It’s normal for some stress to be present when your child is working towards their future goals. However, it’s essential to watch out for signs of excessive stress, such as loss of appetite, overeating, irregular sleep patterns, extreme mood swings, and lack of breaks. If these signs persist, it’s necessary to seek the help of a medical professional to avoid negative impacts on your child’s health and performance on exam day.
Dealing with exam stress can be challenging for parents and children alike. What works for one child doesn’t always work for the other, and it takes a bit of trial and error to find the best technique for your child. In this journey of revisions and exams, your child will learn about themselves, which is crucial for future work opportunities. But there are some helpful tips you can use to assist your child in managing their stress levels and performing well in their exams. It’s important to remain supportive, keep in touch with teachers, and encourage relaxation techniques. You and your child can conquer exam stress and strive for success by working together.
From Edulinxs Club – Where learning reaches every child
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