Help easing the 2020 exam burden for your child

exam burden
Exam time can be very stressful for everyone in the family as your child is preparing for his / her final exams for 2020. With South Africa’s school year being drastically shortened due to the country’s coronavirus lockdown and with a number of students returning to school in September for the first time since the middle of March, our children may display some unusual signs of stress and anxiety for the exams that are upon them. As a parent, you can really help your children through this time, just by being there for them and encouraging them to talk about their feelings and fears.

Do not helicopter them

It is important to remember that every child will approach their exam season in their particular way, whether it is studying on their own or listening to music whilst revising or studying with friends together in a group. One of our key jobs as parents is to help our children to develop their own intrinsic motivation. This means the capacity to want to do things because they are worth doing, and not because someone else is standing over them telling them that they must.  Standing over your child telling them to revise, and how to do it, does NOT help them to develop their own intrinsic motivation.

Optimising your child’s chances for success

You can do a lot to make things easier for your child, physically and emotionally. Here are five tips to see you through these challenging weeks.

1.  Give emotional support

Don’t add to your child’s stress by putting unnecessary pressure on them. Encourage them to do the best they can, but don’t make out that it’s the end of the world if they do not do as well as expected. Let them know that exams can be re-written if the results are not what you’d hoped for.

2.  Communicate

Discuss the upcoming exams with your child and ask what their main concerns are and how you can help. Find out your child’s greatest areas of concern and help them draw up a study timetable, allowing extra sessions for the areas of concern and making sure it allows for regular breaks.

3.  Create a study-friendly environment

Set up a study area that is quiet and as far away as possible from family activities. Make sure your child has everything needed to aid concentration, such as a jug of water, necessary stationery, fresh air and so on. Remove distractions such as the TV from the study area and keep down family noise. Let them off the hook as far as home chores are concerned and make sure they get enough sleep.

4.  Prepare wholesome meals and snacks

Make sure your child eats regularly and sticks to a balanced diet that contains plenty of vegetables and fruit. Discourage them from resorting to drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks and reward them with some delicious snacks during breaks.

5.  Have fun every now and then

Reassure and motivate your child as often as you can. Do something you both like during breaks or let them do something on their own if they prefer. To celebrate after a big exam, go to a restaurant, cook a special dinner at home, or watch a movie or series together. Above all, let your child know you’re there for them whatever the results.   By Linda Cilliers

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