The buzz of finals is in the air and while some students are able to tackle exams without getting flustered, others find these two weeks to be a time of ultimate stress. With many study tools like libraries, in-person review sessions and study groups no longer an option, parents have been asking us what they can do to support their children, help them reach their maximum potential, and manage stress levels (their own as well!).
Our tutors have put together a parents' guide with the top tips to help you navigate exams - so that everyone can emerge feeling calm and confident!
1. Help construct a study schedule
When you see your child watching the Bachelorette instead of studying, it can be tempting to try to pull them away. But nagging your child to study is only going to add to their stress. Instead, try sitting down with your child to create a study schedule, making time for breaks (including reality TV!). Once everything is mapped out, you can both feel confident that all the necessary studying can get done – and you won’t have to feel like the study police!
2. Encourage Balance
Part of creating a study schedule is ensuring balance. This means scheduling time for exercise, socializing, family time and rest. Each of these elements is equally important to your child’s success. Exercise helps release endorphins and helps your child to focus. Socializing and family time can help put exams in perspective, diminishing stress and helping your child to feel more connected to the outside world. Never forget that laughter can go a long way! Finally, rest is essential for the brain to perform well, especially when it comes to memory. Encouraging some down time and positive sleep habits is key!
3. Create a productive study environment
While you can’t actually learn the exam material for your child, there are things that you can do to create an environment that encourages calm and focus. Constant distractions can create a chaotic study environment, especially now when libraries and cafes are closed, and students aren’t able to gather for in-person study groups. Keeping the house clean and relatively quiet, as well as reducing the amount of action (think barking dogs, doorbells, piano lessons, loud video calls, blaring movies, etc) will go a long way towards helping your child stick to their study routine.
4. Express your availability to help
Rather than constantly encouraging your child to hit the books, a more productive approach is to express your availability to help if necessary. State your willingness to explain concepts if they get stuck. And even if you’re not a pro at science or math, you can still offer to quiz your child and drive him or her to exams. These helpful actions not only help your child with the exam material, but also show that you care in a non-authoritarian way that your child will surely appreciate.
5. Show your love on a plate
Sometimes, the best way to show your love is in the shape of a sandwich. When students are in study mode, eating – and especially eating well – often goes on the back-burner. Healthy eating habits will have a positive influence on studying, keeping your child fueled with the nutrients to stay alert and focused, without having to turn to unhealthy pick-me-ups like red bull or coffee. Encourage your child by keeping the refrigerator stocked with healthy foods and snacks, and even preparing some nutritious meals. Similarly, drinking water is key to staying alert and keeping the mind fresh. Caffeine-free teas and naturally-flavoured water are great alternatives to sugary beverages to help your child stay hydrated throughout the day.
6. Surprise your child
Little surprises are a great way to show your child you care. For example, leave a fun new notebook, desk plant, or your child’s favorite treat on their desk, or leave some words of encouragement on a sticky note. These little moments of surprise can break up the stress your child is feeling and remind them that everything is going to be ok. Need some ideas? Check out our shop!
7. Don’t overdo it
However you choose to support your child during exam time, the key is moderation. Even the best intentions – when overdone, can often have the opposite effect. Incessant offers to help, suggestions to study or stop studying and even constant gifts and plates of food can be at best distracting, and at worst, add to the stress and amount of pressure your child is already feeling. Remember, the key is to be supportive and maintain a positive relationship with your child. If things really don’t seem to be going on track, rather than lecturing your child or getting angry, talk to your child about getting some outside help, like a teacher or tutor, to help set some positive habits. Remember, in the end, you both have the same goals!
How are you helping you child cope with exam stress? Let us know in the comments below!