Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” – Jim Valvano
“I may not be able to give my kids everything they want, but I give them what they need: love, time, and attention. You can’t buy those things.” – Nishan Panwar
“By loving them for more than their abilities, we show our children that they are much more than the sum of their accomplishments.” – Eileen Kennedy-Moore
No matter how well your child is doing at school, examinations and tests can be stressful events for them anyway. Your parental support is extremely important during this time. So, what can you do if you see that your child is going through an exam period? Well, many things. Indeed, there are many things that you can do to help your child reduce stress, help them improve their well-being and help them organize their studies and preparation for exams in a way that does not negatively impact them mentally and leads to good exam outcomes.
It goes without saying that all parents mean well to their children. They all want their children to succeed in school and be happy overall. However, very often some parents are pressuring parents to do things, instead of supporting them. By, perhaps, meaning well, they further push their children into a state of anxiety, which makes it impossible for them to concentrate on their studies. This is, of course, not a sensible way of supporting children.
What parents should do is help them create healthy study habits and help them stay positive. So, in this short article, we are going to examine the main ways of supporting your children during the exam period. Here they are:
Good Preparation for Exams Starts Well Before the Exam Starts
Therefore, it is very important for your kid to create a good homework routine. If you help your children get used to doing a small amount of study every day during the week, then the idea of revising all that material leading up to exams will not make them stressed.
During exam time, your children may need your help with creating a good revision plan. An ideal revision plan would include short periods of studying and break times. The revision plan should also allow for self-testing. Encourage your child to focus on the process of learning and revising rather than the outcome – indeed the mere thought of getting a bad mark on the exam can be stressful and extremely worrying. Tell them not to worry about the mark and tell them that you will not berate them if for some reason they do not do well in their exam.
Remember the Importance of Physical Exercise
Supporting children during their exam period does not mean making them stay at their desks all the time studying. They should also engage in exercise. According to the existing research, because of physical exercises, blood flow to our brain is increased and its capabilities become significantly enhanced. That means that our brain can remember things quicker and process information more efficiently. And the truth is that we don’t need to engage in very strenuous exercise to get that effect – all we need is just twenty or thirty minutes of exercise a day. So, make sure that you take your child on walks or encourage them to do some sort of physical exercise. This will help them improve their productivity and it will also help them to sleep better.
Make Sure Your Child Eats Well and Drinks Enough Water
A healthy diet supports brain development and growth as well as supports overall brain function. You must not forget about the importance of hydration either. When we are hydrated well our blood pressure is stable. Likewise, water helps the delivery of nutrients to other brains and helps remove all waste products from our system. Scientists have found that even if we are slightly dehydrated our concentration becomes impaired and our energy level dramatically decreases. So, it is very important to make sure that your child remains well-hydrated. How can make sure that they are hydrated? The easiest way to help our children stay hydrated is to encourage them to sip water throughout the day. Remember that fizzy drinks do not help to hydrate our bodies. On the contrary, all the sugar contained in these drinks is making us more dehydrated. So, we need to explain this to our children as well, encouraging them to opt for water rather than Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
Make sure your child stays away from coffee as well. Although many adults say that coffee enhances their productivity, the effects of caffeine on a child’s body can be quite detrimental. Indeed, instead of increasing their productivity it can spur their anxiety and lead to digestive problems. Caffeine can also disrupt children’s sleep, so it is best to discourage them from drinking coffee.
Encourage Your Children to Treat Their Sleep Time Seriously
Poor sleep can lead to extra stress and tiredness, which in turn makes it difficult to sleep. Encourage your child to spend less time with their phone, especially when they are in bed ready to close their eyes. Also, ensure that the temperature in their bedroom is neither hot nor cold. It is also a good idea to encourage them to go to bed at the same time – this will help their brain get into the habit of falling asleep faster when they want it.
Tell Your Children About the Concept of Mindfulness
In our blog, we talk a lot about emotional intelligence and exam stress is something that can be successfully mitigated by being emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is our ability to manage and understand our emotions. One of the ways to do that is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice that helps us be present in the moment, and be conscious about things around us, thereby driving away our worries about the future.
Indeed, stress and anxiety come when we think too much about our future. But all we need to do is to focus on the present moment, which will immediately calm our minds and help us concentrate on whatever we are doing now. If you do not know how to talk to your child about mindfulness you can help them download a mindfulness app on their phone and let them go through the journey of getting to know mindfulness themselves. Some of these apps are focused solely on mediation practices. Other apps are about breathing techniques.
We should remember that emotional intelligence is not just some useless concept. There is science behind it. In fact, there are numerous studies demonstrating the positive effects of mindfulness on children’s school life and their personal life too. So, remember to encourage mindfulness in your children and take some time for mindfulness yourself. It is true that many parents may not be aware at all the concept of emotional intelligence and that is something that needs to be rectified. If you feel like you lack knowledge about this important concept, check out our articles on our Shiminly blog.
In this article, we have talked about five ways of supporting your child during exam time. Yes, indeed no matter how bright or successful at school your child is, exam preparation can be a challenging time for them. And they need your support.
Remember that it is important to be an example of calmness and positivity for your child. If you are stressed and anxious for your child, you will inevitably make them feel the same way. So, make sure you stay calm. Sometimes parents underestimate the extent to which their own emotions can affect the well-being of their child.
So apart from being positive, show your child that you are proud of them. That you believe in them. And that you believe that they will be able to do well in their exams. Avoid telling them that you would prefer them to get such or such a mark – that will only make them feel more stressed. Instead, tell them that no matter the outcome of their exam, you will always love and support them.
Take some time to relax too. It is understandable if you feel stressed too – after all, it is your child, and you want them to succeed.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.