Exam time requires the student to invest physical and mental energy. Understandably, this is a stressful period for everyone involved - the child and parents.
As a parent you wish to build a supportive environment for your child. Here are some of the ways in which days leading up to exams as well as exam time can be a less stressful period.
- Following the S.M.A.R.T method for goal-setting while studying. This stands for specific , measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (‘SMART Goals How to Make Your Goals Achievable’, n.d.)
- Most people need eight to nine hours of sleep in a night to retain memories, but teenagers need more. Short naps are helpful as long as they don’t stretch longer than 30 minutes, this would interfere with sleep at night (Dolin, n.d.). In the days leading up to exams, students are busy learning and revising concepts. Sleep helps the brain rehash new information better, helping the brain establish new learning in a way that is remembered through deeper connections and for longer periods (Dolin, n.d.). In the days leading up to the start of the exams, the pressure will be put into high gear to study and revise syllabus portions. This is a time where the mind is learning and re-learning concepts both old and new. While working hard is important, sleep must not be ignored at any cost.
Taking 10 to 15 minutes just before you go to sleep to review what was studied in the day will help you process the information better as you sleep (Dolin, n.d.).
- 30 minutes of exercise (in the form of aerobics, a sport, running with the dog etc) improves focus. While any form of exercise is good to improve concentration, exercises that require concentration such as yoga, tai chi can be particularly useful for someone who has trouble focusing (Dolin, n.d.).
- Avoid cramming - Time permitting, distributing the study material over a few days instead of cramming portions in a single afternoon or evening’s sitting is a better option (Dolin).
- Figure out what works best as per the individual’s preference. While being seated in one place and studying is good for one person, someone else would do better to use different areas of the house to study in. Studying in a way that suits individual needs are important (Dolin, n.d.).
- Avoid multitasking. There is strong evidence to show that multitasking saps attention and impedes performance. Being mindful of interruptions (especially from electronic communication) is important (‘Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence’, n.d.). Productivity dips when more than one task is focused on.
- During exam time, a positive anchor that your child associates with a happy, calming memory can matter to the state of their mind when they are entering a space that they usually associate with stress, a nervous incident of the past. An anchor is an emotional association with a person, place, or object. They can create links to our thoughts and emotions that reaffirm positive feelings. A piece of stationery, clothing associated with a space of safety and comfort, using these can help induce a feeling of calm for the child in the examination hall (Johnson, 2017).
- Helping the student review their study plan. Is following this study plan allowing your child to meet the goals planned? If not, how can this be changed and adapted to suit the intended outcome? This will help your child develop self-regulating skills that will help them make changes and adapt as and when required (‘Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence’, n.d.).
- In case an exam has not gone well, it is important that the parent is able to frame the child’s response mechanism in a way that focuses on a growth-mindset. For instance: aside from the immediate sense of loss felt, what are the important takeaways from this experience that will help the child develop alternatives that will come in handy for problem-solving skills in their work life, later on ((‘Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence’, n.d.).
If you would like to find out more ways in which you can build a supportive environment for your child, or would like to know more about the above mentioned suggestions, you can call 1800-270-1790 to speak to a counsellor.
- (n.d.). https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm. SMART Goals How to Make Your Goals Achievable. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from http:// www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm
- Dolin , A. (n.d.). ADDitude - Inside the ADHD Brain: ADD Symptom Tests, Treatment, Support. Studying with ADHD / ADD: 7 Ways to Earn Better Grades. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from http://www.additudemag.com/learn-more-in-less-time/
- Johnson , K. (2017, May 30). Executive Function Coaching | Beyond BookSmart. Dealing With the Stress of Final Exams: How Positive Anchors Can Help. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from http://www.beyondbooksmart.com/executive-functioning-strategies-blog/managing-the-stress-of-final-exams-how-positive-anchors-can-help
- (2015, August 5). Frontpage - NorthBridge. Tips on how to Improve Your Executive Function Skills While in College - NorthBridge. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from http://northbridgeaz.org/tips-on-how-to-improve-your-executive-function-skills-while-in-college
- (n.d.). Wisconsin Office of Children's Mental Health Home.Retrieved January 17, 2018, from http://children.wi.gov/Documents/Harvard%20Parenting%20Resource.pdf