With the summer exams just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to provide some basic tips to help you and your teen get through this very stressful time.
There seem to be two very different types of student - those with a proclivity to do the barest minimum and those who are very dedicated, working all hours. They both have the potential to worry their parents but for very different reasons!
I have two girls, who fall very definitely, into the former category. I try very hard to remember my ‘O’ levels and how irritating my mother was at that time, by trying to push me, but learning to step back is very difficult. Constant nagging isn’t going to work and stepping back can provide the space needed for your son/daughter to show you how much better they are without you continually looking over their shoulder. Providing snacks, kindness and help to make their revision timetable would, I’m sure, be gratefully received.
If you have the dedicated student type, I have to say that I truly envy you. But I know that there can be times when it can all get too much and the stress levels can become unnecessarily high. My youngest daughter told me the other day that she'd read online that no-one actually cares what grades you get in your GCSEs after a few years and so people shouldn’t panic about their results so much. I think this advice had been given to try and help the overworking type but it became that week’s excuse to kick back!
Here are my top tips on how to be supportive without being a nag:
- Add the exam times to your Calendar, so everyone can see when they start, how long they go on for and note half term as the week of rest and calm in the middle of it all.
- Help them to set up a revision plan. Our revision planning wall chart could help by adding dots and times to plan ahead. Don’t let them become obsessed with this though, as it can become a real opportunity for procrastination.
- Kit them out with some nice stationery to help their note-taking - highlighter pens, sticky notes, cards, notebooks - it doesn’t have to be dull.
- Plan some treats, days out and rest opportunities to get them away from their books or computer and allow some guilt-free rest and relaxation. Even an hour out to their favourite cafe for cake is a great break!
- Create a calm, quiet and distraction-free zone for them to revise. Mobile phones can be a huge source of distraction, but they do have an ‘off button’ or can be left with you during revision.
- Making a bit of a fuss of them with healthy snacks and drinks is a lovely way of showing you care without being in their faces - I’m sure they will appreciate them.
On exam morning, a good breakfast, if they’ll have it, would be a great start to the day, making sure that they work with some fuel for their very active brain. Make sure that they have everything they need - pencils, pens, ruler, calculator etc. By thinking of the little things it helps them to get to the exam hall, unphased and calm.