Most of us know what an ordeal exams can be. If a member of your family is going through this experience you’ll soon be aware of it. Many of us have memories of exams that we would frankly rather forget. But just how do you make this period of time bearable – for you, the student, and for the family as whole? Can you help, show understanding – maybe get involved? If you do, will it lead to a more tolerable experience all round?
Possibly the best way to start is with the simplest ideas. Exam season is a mental, physical and emotional strain for all concerned but especially the young people themselves. They need to be well fed and rested. They need to plan an effective revision programme and stick to it. They need to get enough sleep, have breaks, and enjoy some sort of social life or a form of relaxation to stop them becoming obsessive.
These are all things a responsible adult can help with. But it might be a good idea to work out the best way to collaborate over this. Will your opinion be welcomed? Try and find out exactly how much help the young person is actually prepared to accept; and how much has got to be done surreptitiously. It would be good to still get on after this difficult period is over!
There are things a concerned adult can do. They might help you understand what’s involved these days and also show you’re interested. Today, most exam boards try to help candidates by including on their websites comments from the examiners about last year’s exam answers; or they might carry some sample exam answers which show how to write well and get a better grade. Could you interest the young person in this sort of advice? Or find out if they already know it? Is it possible to leave a printout where it’s likely to be seen ( if this isn’t going to be construed as interference! ). And if it isn’t too late, a three way conversation between parent / carer, teacher / tutor and young person is never a bad thing and might make you all feel better.. If pressure really builds, relaxation exercises such as mindfulness are often recommended. There are plenty of resources available, for you or the student. Or both. Finally, if stress and even depression really do look serious, mental health organisations such as ‘Young Minds’ might be able to help. The BBC runs a blog on this. We don’t want this to happen but if it does it is worth a look.
So good luck, be available, and to all parents everywhere: be prepared to listen!! In many ways the key to you getting through this time is this and in methods of preparation, as with your your child themselves.
I'm semi-retired after a successful and much enjoyed career in education. Funnily enough, my last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. I've had an interesting career, in schools, colleges, adult education, the Arts and a few other bits and bobs. At one stage I was also a local authority inspector. Now I'm a school governor, and am enjoying watching my young grandchildren go through their own first experiences of school. Through these articles I hope to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested!