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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Edition 14: Help Them Conquer Exam

Stress is inevitable when your children are facing examinations, and it's likely they will become short-tempered and irrational, so how should you react? Experts offers some dos and don'ts.
Faced with numerous written and oral exams, even the most mild-mannered and pleasant teenagers tend to lose any trace of their previous good nature and all hope of reasonable conversation comes to an end. "Was alright" is probably the nearest you will get to a complete sentence until the exams are over. It may, in fact, be the nearest you get to a sentence until they leave university or college.
Stress, of course, is a serious problem for students, and as parents we should try to be as tolerant and supportive as we can at this difficult time. All of us can remember that tight feeling in the stomach just before an exam starts and that sinking sensation when we first turn the paper over.
Similarly we have probably all had that horrible experience when you are revising and nothing seems to be going in, no matter how hard you study. Faced with such pressure it is not surprising that students become totally irrational around exam time.
Typically, students who are working under enormous stress will have difficulty sleeping and will be rather short-tempered. They may also have problems motivating themselves. The task ahead of them may seem so enormous that they just do not know where to start, so they give up. They may struggle to get out of bed, for example, not because of laziness but because they know this will mean they have to face the problem of revising. They are often genuinely scared of starting the day.
What, then, can you?
The main thing to remember is that the only thing that will matter to your child at the moment is the next exam. Everything else is an interruption or an irritation. On this basis, whatever you try and do to help is almost inevitably going to be wrong. Having said this, the mere fact that you are there is reassuring. Given the amount of pressure on them at the moment they need someone to shout at, to scream at or simply to ignore.
As a parent you have elected yourself as their punchbag for the next few weeks, and the best thing you can do is to stand and take it. You might end up in a far worse state than your child by the time the exams are over, but at least you will have earned your A grade in parenthood.
Although it can be extremely difficult to hold back when you see your children under pressure, all you can really do at this time is to be supportive. If you do manage to catch your child off guard in a moment of unexpected sanity, you may want to offer to help them with their work; this will earn you further points of merit, but do not be surprised if your offer is returned with a look that could freeze the River Thames. Keep smiling, count to 10 and remember how nice they were as a baby.
At some stage they will almost certainly come to you for comfort. Even the most accomplished students find at least one paper is more difficult than they thought and get upset over the way they performed. In this situation it is up to you to reassure them that however badly they think they have done, it is in fact extremely difficult to assess your own standard in a particular exam. In many cases, the reason that people think it went badly is because they are only remembering the questions they missed out or got wrong, and have lost sight of their overall performance.
Ten Exam Tips For Parents
Don’t Nag
It doesn’t help. Keep your expectations out of it, kids have enough of their own. And stay calm. Fear and anger are catching.
Set Goals & Boundaries
Agree a revision schedule and offer to tape their favourite TV shows for watching later. Treats are essential. It helps give them a purpose for getting
Offer Sympathy
They could be your biggest contribution. Take them drinks and make sure they take regular breaks. Offer to test them. Stop them working if they seem
Try Aroma Memory
Pick an oil your child has not used before, one known to improve alertness, such as basil, lime, or peppermint. Use it in a burner while revising. Keep a different oil for each subject. When the exam comes along put a drop of the same oil on a tissue or sleeve cuff. Sniff discreetly and it will help your memory recall the information.
Feed Their Minds
Sugar may give an “energy hit” but it increases stress levels. Give them a bowl of seeds, nuts and dried fruit to eat while studying. Encourage them to drink milk instead of coffee, it’s very calming. Serve them small, regular meals including things like potatoes, pasta, rice, fish and chicken. Make them drink plenty of water. It’s good for the brain.
Build Their Confidence
Maggie Turner says: “Some kids don’t revise through sheer terror. Then if they fail they can blame it on the fact they didn’t revise. Build up their confidence by reminding them of things they’ve done well in, in the past. Others find revision a difficult concept to grasp. Encourage them to see their teacher to develop revision skills."
Look Signs For Stress
Stressed youngsters might be off their food – or overeating. They may be irritable, withdrawn, silent, have difficulty sleeping or be waking early. It’s important to keep a good relationship so they can talk to you about their worries. If necessary get professional help. Most schools have counselors.
Help Them Relax
“Relaxation techniques are very effective,” says Jennie Kramer who teaches stress management at Callington Community College in Cornwall. “Put on some nice music, get them to lie down, close their eyes and breathe deeply while visualising a calming scene such as a deserted beach. Visualising success can really raise self-confidence too.”
* Make sure your child does all homework and reading assignments. It will help make sure your child is prepared for the test.
* Encourage your child to space out their studying and homework assignments so that they won't be forced to cram on the night before the test.
* If you are anxious about your child's test it's ok, but try to keep cool. Don't make them get anxious about their tests too.
* Encourage your child to do well but don't pressure him/her. You may stress him/her out. It is important for your child to stay relaxed on the test.

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