Help your children get through the exams

Ten tips to help parents and children get through the exams

1. Know your child’s entire exam schedule.

Pin a copy of the examination timetable on the kitchen notice board. You should also note the date and time of each paper. Make sure you are at all times aware when your son or daughter has to be in the examination centre.

2. Ensure your child is present for each paper.

Yes, its sounds ridiculous, but with both parents working in many homes, it can happen that someone forgets to wake the student. Make sure they are up and dressed each morning before you leave the house.

3. Make a checklist of daily requirements, based on each day’s papers.

Make a final check each morning before you leave home that your son or daughter is fully prepared for the day’s exams. Writing instruments, along with the other requirements such as rulers, erasers, calculators etc should be checked, along with reading glasses etc.

4. Listen to the story of their day – and move on.

After each day’s examinations, allow your child to recount to you their daily story. Do not be tempted to review in detail the errors or omissions they may have made in answering the paper in question.  Such a process achieves absolutely nothing, other than to increase stress levels. Simply allow them the time and space to tell their story and move on.

5. Help them to focus on the next day’s papers.

It can be helpful to review the next paper. Simple questions, such as “What is up next?”, “Are there any compulsory sections?”, “Are there any predictable questions?” and so on, can be useful in helping students devise their study schedule for the time available before the next exam.

6. Help them to maintain a balanced daily routine.

You should ensure your child maintains a proper balance between study and rest. After an exam, they need time to rest and recharge before they can do any beneficial study for the next paper. Remember that this is on average a two-week process and they need to be as sharp on the morning of their final paper as they are tomorrow. Late-night study sessions should be avoided.

7. A good night’s sleep always improves examination performance.

All study should end at least an hour before bed to allow the student to unwind. Falling straight into bed from the study desk means the student’s mind will be buzzing for hours as he/she attempts to fall asleep.

8. You are what you eat.

What you eat and drink affects your performance in any field of activity, especially one involving mental sharpness. As a parent, you should try to ensure that your child eats and drinks nutritious food during the coming weeks. Grazing on junk food is very tempting at times of increased stress. Avoid this.

9 Don’t overhype the importance of any examination.

Make it clear to your kids that your love and regard for them is in no way dependent on how they perform in the Junior or Leaving Certificates. This affirmation is the best gift you can give them on the eve of their exams.

10. Make sure your child continues to mix with friends and family.

Don’t isolate them in the study room upstairs. Contact with their peers is very important to maintaining their spirits during the coming weeks. You can also support them and lift their spirits when they are taking a break from their studies.

Written by Brian Mooney (Guidance Counellor), originally published in the Irish Times.


More tips for parents....

The best way to support your child during the stress of revision and exams is to make home life as calm and pleasant as possible. Don’t let your stress become their stress. It helps if other members of the household are aware that your child may be under pressure and that allowances should be made for this.

If your child is given study leave in the run-up to exams, try to be at home as much as possible so that you can share a break and a chat together.

Make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge and try to provide good, nutritious food at regular intervals.

Encourage your child to join family meals, even if it's a busy revision day - it's important to have a change of scene and get away from the books and computer for a while. Also encourage your child to take regular exercise. A brisk walk around the block can help clear the mind before the next revision session.

Try not to make too many demands on your child during exam time. Arguments are counter-productive and will only add unnecessary stress and distract from revision.

It's important to get a good night's sleep before an exam, so discourage your child from staying up late to cram. And make sure he or she eats a good breakfast on the morning of the exam.

Throughout the run up to the exams and after it is important to reassure your child that no matter what results they receive, that there are options. It may not be their first option but there is other ways to get the same qualification so be aware of the options should they not get their first choice. Give them as much encouragement and support during these times.


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