No matter the age of the young person in your life, deadlines, tests, and exams can be a stressful time for all involved. As carers, we have the opportunity to influence their environment to create a space that is conducive to learning and helping them to structure their time productively! In this post we will look at support for parents and carers, options and strategies to reduce stress, optimise well-being and put good study skills into play (whilst trying to maintain our sanity and that of those around us!).
We all want our children to do well, but there’s a fine line between support and pressure! It’s balancing act trying to encourage good study habits without adding to their stress and pushing them towards an even more heightened state of anxiety, which will be counterproductive. Some learners will need supervision, encouragement and reminders to keep them on track with their tasks, others may simply need reassurance and a calming presence to ensure they remain relaxed enough to retain the information they need to. It really does depend on the learning style of your child.
The following points are to help you support your child to the best of your abilities, remember to adapt them for your child!
Work with your child to find what revision style works best for them
Depending on the way they learn, they may need to adapt the way they revise. Think about non-traditional methods of revision such as transforming key points into song lyrics that you can have fun singing together, or saying them in different accents to improve retention through fun. Of course, traditional methods such as repetition or flash cards should not be discounted as they are proven to work!
Promote a study/life balance
The use of time logs or time diaries can help make sure that intense revision does not take over their whole life and become all consuming, down time is incredibly important when stress levels are likely to be high. Devising fun activities, planning a short outing or walk, or simply stepping away from the books and having some quiet time can really aid the revision process.
Encourage self-care during stressful periods
Making sure that they are eating healthily, staying hydrated, and taking care of personal hygiene is something that may not be at the forefront of their minds during these times. This is something that we can help with, by reminding, providing and reinforcing the importance of self-care.
Meditation and mindfulness
Used as a stress reducing tool, meditation and mindfulness will go towards reducing anxiety levels. Focussing on breathing is known to reduce stress, improve focus and promote productivity and motivation. Go to www.headspace.com to learn some great techniques. Give it a try together!
Reinforce that you will be proud of them no matter what. Let them know that how they are feeling is valid and normal, offer solutions and support where possible. If anxiety levels start impacting their daily life, seek help from your GP.
Accept your limits – You can lead a child to learning, but you can’t make them think! As much as we’d like to, we are unable to control what our children do or don’t learn or achieve. Our power lies in optimising the environment and mindset for learning. I think we’d all agree, it is not worth destroying your relationship with your child over an exam grade, nor is it worth having a profound effect on their self-esteem. A failed exam is not the end of the world! Supporting children through stressful times can be stressful for us too.
The tips in this post are not exhaustive and you will find the best way to work with your child. However, the best approach can often be through nurturing and kindness (this is also less impactful on our own stress levels), rather than nagging or aggression. Think back to how you felt yourself when preparing for exams…think about how you feel now when preparing for deadlines!
We can’t take the exam for them, but we can give them the very best chance to achieve their best by being there every step of the way.
Author: Jemma Dawn Froggit