The stress of formal exams is a tricky one to negotiate for both teenagers and their parents: The stress of doing well, the stress of what will happen afterwards and the stress of what to do with their lives in the future can all take its toll. I actually think our teenagers have many stresses that they have to deal with and it seems to be much more than I remember as a teenager growing up in the 1980’s.
I know a little about exam stress as one of my children has A’Levels this summer whilst the other has GCSE’s! Obviously, with a two year gap between my children, I knew this day would come but it seems to have rushed towards us since September! I worry about them as any parent would and want to help them as much as possible so, here are my top tips for managingexam stress at this time in their lives.
7 ways to manage your child’s exam stress:
1. Plan their time
Making a timetable for exam preparation is key to managing their time effectively. When they see their time in blocks, it can make it easier to manage. They can also see that they are giving each subject equal amounts of time which is key to success. When my daughter was studying for her GCSE’s, 5 blocks of time each day in the Easter holidays was enough. Otherwise, it all becomes too much and they may get more stressed if they don’t get it all done.
2. Plan rest or fun times
Everyone needs something to look forward to so plan in rest breaks each day so that your teenager can watch TV or go and see their friends for an hour or so. I think that having at least one day off per week is also really important. Let them plan in a few days of fun over Easter; it is the holidays after all! Having a fun day off will mean that they want to revise on other days…well that’s the hope anyway!
3. Having a place to study
A space for teenagers to study is important so that they can feel relaxed. I know that my teenagers like to spread out and have their books or other sources around them so that they can refer to things as they revise. I personally think the kitchen table is better than being in their bedroom because parents can check on their progress more easily; this is particularly helpful for younger teenagers. I am also in favour of using books and pens rather than a computer but maybe that’s the teacher in me!
4. Get enough rest
This is a tricky one with teenagers but they need to try to stay in their school routine if possible. Getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time will keep a regular body clock. I really believe that this is a fundamental way to help them revise. We all know that teenagers would prefer to go to sleep at 3am and get up at noon but this is hopeless during revision time! Waking at 8 or 9am and starting revision within the hour of waking means that they can achieve the goal of revising for 5 hours each day but also having valuable family time.
5. Eating well
Just as sleeping well is important, eating regular meals is also important. Revising is work and work needs fuel! Eating three meals each day and having snacks will help your child stay on track.
Talking to your teenager about how they are getting on will let your child know that you care. Don’t lecture them on how little they are doing but try to support them. My children like to talk through what they have learnt and we often do that whilst walking the dog! This allows them to get some exercise but also to ‘down load’ what they have learnt or see if they have remembered it. I have often walked Dottie carrying a Physics GCSE guide! I think once your child knows that you can be a useful revision tool, they will talk to you and hopefully, this will lead to better communication.
7. Be present
This is a tough one as many of us work and we have to let our teenagers get on with it. Also, for A’ Level revision, you can’t do it for them so they need to be independent with their studies. Instead what I mean is, listen to their worries, talk to them and encourage them to talk to you about their worries or stresses. Hopefully then they will know that you are on ‘their side’.
I hope you found this useful. By no means is this an extensive list and everyone deals with stress in different ways but as parents, it is useful to know how we can help our teenagers. Obviously, if you are worried about your teenager during this tricky time, speak to their teachers or your GP. You can also find out more here