Parents’ Place: How to Support Your Teens During Exam Season | Rare Techy
Exam time can be incredibly stressful for your kids – here’s how to help them through it. Photo / 123rf
When it comes to teens and test preparation (or lack thereof), procrastination can be a challenge for parents.
It may help to remember that some people procrastinate because they are anxious. As parents, let’s give our teens some peace and perspective, reminding them that tests only measure how well they can perform, not their worth as a person.
Let them know that exams are important and that good results help, but try not to add stress. In fact, almost all students will encounter what they can and cannot do on an exam – the more they study, the more balanced they will be towards what they can do.
We can also remind our children that their job is to do the best they can. “I will allow this” is a much more productive and helpful statement than “I can’t do this.”
Where to start
Some children procrastinate because they don’t know where to start. You might be able to help by giving them some guidance and suggesting some ways to learn:
• Make a list of points from this page.
• Answer this question from this previous year test paper.
• Make lists of all the subjects you need to study in your notes and then we will make a study timetable.
Any teenager faced with ten hours of rigorous study is going to shut down in fear. Scheduled breaks are very helpful. A technique that works well is to set a timer and challenge for fifteen minutes:
See how much you can do in 15 minutes – when the timer goes off, do a stretch. Next time, a glass of water. After four 15-minute bursts, take a long break.
Create some space
Having a quiet and clear space for studying is very important. Your teen may need a break from chores for a while, and other family members need to be cued to be considerate and calm. While some homework graces will certainly help your teen pass the time, some practical boundaries will help with other — and more interesting — things that may compete for their attention during exam time. Basically ‘study break’ doesn’t mean ‘vacation’, so teenagers may need some help saying “not now” to social distractions.
You don’t need to spend every waking hour studying the course – that can be counterproductive. But non-study activities should be put on hold until a decent amount of time is spent on revision. The same goes for distracting technology. Since most of the learning takes place online, a complete technological barrier is not really helpful. However, supporting your teen in establishing a plan that maximizes focused study time, along with the rewards of social media and movies after work is done, will help.
How’s your algebra?
It may have been a while since we parents learned algebra or chemistry, but we can help teenagers learn even if we don’t really understand it.
Check in with your teen, take their notes, and ask them to explain to you what they know about the topic.
Let them know why you’re doing it: it’s not to test them, but to help them, because sometimes the best way to make facts ‘stick’ in your brain is to explain them to someone else. Watch some YouTube videos with your student – There are dozens of videos on how to prepare for exams, with different tips and techniques. The reason you meet with them is, “That feels good. Let’s try it! ” and then turn off the computer. The problem with YouTube is that it’s so engrossing that before you know it, you’ve spent three hours watching cat videos and Fail Army.
The point is, any technique that helps your child sort and sift through their notes will be valuable. It is also good to talk about the techniques of the exam. The most basic thing is to go through the entire exam first and work out what you can do easily and what you can’t do and then divide your time wisely. Old exam papers are very useful for practicing.
And of absolute prime importance – students need to know exactly when and where their exams are. Every year kids turn up at the wrong place or time.
Exams are the biggest thing some children will ever face, so keep your child emotionally close and supportive. For a teenager, that means being there and available. And snacks and meals are provided. Many teenagers don’t express their stress and become anxious – which often comes across as angry or sullen, but as wise and experienced parents, it means that there are some big emotions going on beneath the surface and the stress is building up. And sufficient justification.