We all know that exams can be stressful for children but the latest research suggests that exams are also very stressful for parents. So is there anything you can do - ways to reduce that stress?
BBC Five Live carried out research in March 2017 which suggests that 25% of parents had lost sleep worrying over their children’s exams.24% say that they had subsequently suffered mental health issues.
The poll was carried out by ComRes. They questioned 830 parents who had children aged 11-18 from all over Great Britain. Interestingly the charity Childline has also said that more children are calling the helpline with stress issues relating to exams. They said that more and more young people are feeling stressed about the need to succeed, stress which is also being felt by parents.
The poll also found that 42% of parents said not knowing how to help their children with revision made them feel a failures, as they couldn’t help their children as they would like. 52% said they would like help on supporting their children through revision. 31% said they had offered money to their children as an incentive.
Taking exams will always be stressful but there are some things you can do to help your children.
It is essential that your children have somewhere quiet to study. Ideally this would be in their own bedroom. If this is not available them try to establish a quiet zone in the house with no distractions and as much peace and quiet as you can give them.
Hopefully your child’s school will help your child do this but it is so important that your child learns to plan their revision. This ensures that they will get through the revision before the exam but it is also important to build in some free time to relax and get some breaks. If school don’t issue a blank weekly planner then help your child draw one up that plans out what they will do each day of the week. Work back from the exam to ensure that all subjects get covered.
Like us each child will revise differently as their brains and ways of learning will differ. Some children learn better using mind mapping, flash cards, making notes, flow charts and diagrams. Also they will need to be tested through either Q&A or writing sample exam questions and working through past papers. Again there isn’t a one size fits all, so see what your child thinks works for them. Try not to impose your way as again children learn differently and the more you can empower them to control their revision, the better, it is after all a life skill.
You may be lucky and have a child who is really self-motivated and you have little to do here but what do you do with a child who really doesn’t want to revise? You can certainly make sure they have breaks and also you encourage them with little treats to keep them going. But there are some really basic facts that you may simply have to tell them. That actually you won’t pass an exam without working hard at it. But by working hard point out to your child what it can give them, a great university place, a job they will want to do, money to pay for a car, a new phone etc. The bottom line is that hard work will lead to a better life.
This can sometimes be overlooked but you must ensure your child gets adequate sleep and eats a good healthy diet. By the latter we need to ensure lots of water and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Exercise is also really important for both relaxation and to energise the brain. Encourage your child to continue their sport, or simply take a walk with you.
Good to remind your child whether it’s a school exam, A level or GCSE there are exam protocols that will really help. Always ensure that your child has all the stationery they need including a calculator if needed. Look at how many marks questions are worth. A question worth 1 mark should not be given more time than a question worth 5 marks. Encourage them to read the question thoroughly, read their answers in detail and ensure that they use the time properly. Don’t get so bogged down in an answer that you can’t answer anything else. If you have 2 hours for 4 essays then you know you have 30 minutes for each one.