The Exams For Parents
With students sitting or about to sit their GCSEs a rising level of tension and stress is probably looming over the household in anticipation of the coming day. For some students there is no such thing as stress where for others it is comparable to the time of the apocalypse. However, is it only the students who are stressed out about the exams? I mean most parents want their child to do well in the exams and probably feel a level of tension themselves. Yet do parents actually contribute to student exam anxiety because they want their child to perform well? What is good exam parenting and what steps can be taken to reduce exam stress? Below I will discuss this further. If you have any comments please feel free to leave them below.
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Parents and exam stress
In March 2017 the BBC posted in a news article that Com Res for BBC Radio 5 Live conducted a survey about parenting and exams on 830 parents of 11-18 year old children. They found 24% of the British parents polled said "there own mental health had been affected by the pressure of their children's exams". It continued by saying 25% "said they had often lost sleep worrying over children's exams" and that "two in five parents (42%) said not knowing how to help their children with revision made them feel as if they were "not good enough as parents"". Interestingly the poll raised an important question as to whether children should be offered money to encourage them if they perform well in exams. In my mind I wondered if this classifies as good parenting practice? In the poll "a third (31%) said" they did offer "their children money as an incentive to revise in the hope of boosting their grades." According to the poll 52% of the parents questioned wanted "more help and advice on how to support their children through their revision".
The Telegraph reported in April 2016 that the National Citizen Service (NCS) conducted a survey of 1000 teenagers. It found that 78% expected "exam stress to have a negative" impact on "their appearance, health or mental state in some way during the revision period with many eating more or less than usual". 1 in 10 of the teenagers did not have "time to shower or change their clothes" and 1 in 5 did not leave "the house for days". The report found that teenagers just wanted to be left alone to get on with their studying. Again does this classify as good parenting practice?
The study also found that "confiscating technology, micromanaging revision calendars or parents saying things like "shouldn't you be revising" or "how can you think with that music/YouTuber/screen on" were also detrimental to the student. Again I repeat is this good parenting practice? Should parents be discouraging procrastination around the time of exams?
Good Practice for Parents
Below is a list of generally agree good practices for parents to support their children in preparing for exams. If you can think of any extra ways please feel free to leave a comment below the blog post.
- Be encouraging - there is nothing worse than telling a child they were fail even before an exam
- Encourage your child to ask questions - you/a teacher hopefully can answer them
- Don't add undue pressure - most children stress about exams themselves
- Stay calm - if your calm your child is more likely to be calm and provide a calm environment
- Be supportive - if your child feels you don't care they may take the stance that they don't care
- Look after yourself - it is OK to take a time out if needed
- Help with revision - most children appreciate this and being tested prior to an exam can help
- Lower the noise level - it is difficult for most children to revise when there is a din
- Look after your child's health - make sure they get healthy food, exercise and plenty of sleep
- Encourage your child to revise at times when they have optimum concentration
- Encourage your child to practice mindfulness
- Observe your child - if they are not coping they may need to talk to a counsellor/doctor/teacher
- Maintain perspective - it is an exam and whether pass or fail life goes on
- Arrange down time for your child - all work and no play makes Jack stressed
- Encourage your child to have a balanced lifestyle - this will reduce stress and anxiety
- Attend parents evenings and talk to teachers about your child's progress
- Be lenient with chores around exam time - no reason they can't clean the house after though!
- Find good study sites on the Internet to support your child
- If you can buy study guides and practice papers to prepare your child further
- Buy your child the equipment they need for for the exam prior to the exam
- Make sure your child is ready for the exam the night before
- Ensure your child is clothed properly
- Avoid comparisons to other children
Steps to be taken to reduce stress
- Read my "Coping with Exam Stress" post
- Read my "Top 10 Tips to Stop Panicking in Exams" post
- Read my "20 Tips for Exam Day" post
- Talk to someone - this may be your parent, friend, teacher or even counsellor. Visit reachout.com for further information
- Establish a good revision routine - revising regularly and well will make a student feel prepared