As parents, supporting your children as they study for their exams is often a difficult tightrope to walk. You want to be supportive, yet you don’t want to interfere. This can mean that you don’t offer the support they need in the run-up to exams.
So, how can you find the balance between offering suitable support and creating additional pressure and stress?
Develop a positive environment at home
In the period leading up to the exams, ensure that your home is a calm environment. Keeping things stable will help their concentration, but so too will maintaining a positive attitude about the impending exams.
Refrain from using negative language or going through any big upheavals while they’re studying. In an article about helping children cope with exams, Dr Ramya Mohan comments that you should:
Keep mealtimes regular and set up a revision corner that is comfortable and inviting to work in, with as few distractions as possible. Everything they need should be close at hand, so they don’t have to spend time searching for things.
Whether your child is the most studious in their class or whether they don’t seem to care about their exams, helping them plan and implement a balanced revision schedule will help ensure that they don’t burn out or switch off.
Some children might be more successful at planning their own schedule but taking an interest it in (without taking over) will assure them they have your support.
Equally, if your child is struggling to motivate themselves or implement a schedule, suggesting breaks and ensuring that they have time to themselves might be more effective in encouraging them to revise than simply issuing blanket requests to get on with their revision.
Ask them to discuss their revision
Taking a little time every day to listen to them about their revision topics may improve their confidence in their own knowledge and abilities.
As someone who possibly knows less than their children about the topics they’re studying, asking them to explain their revision succinctly could help them grasp the basic theories that underpin their subject far more effectively than if they were just reading it in a book.
Asking them to perform the role of the teacher, and showing your interest of the subject, is often enough to get them thinking analytically about any difficulties they are having, and even supply their own solutions by discussing a particular problem.
Learn something yourself
In a response to a Huffington Post article about this topic, a parent called Lesley recounted her experience of learning something alongside her daughter.
This doesn’t have to be a big thing, nor a long-term thing. There are plenty of online free courses from the likes of OpenLearn, FutureLearn and Udemy that allow you to learn something over a set period or at your own pace.
As Lesley commented:
As well as chivvying them along to get on with the task required, you are inspiring them to consider learning as a lifelong goal and you can also accomplish something useful for yourself.
Plan for after the exams
Finally, give them something to look forward to. This doesn’t have to be a big thing like a holiday, but just something that they’ve been unable to do while they’ve been studying.
Perhaps they like science so take them to a museum they’ve never been to before; if they like music, plan a visit to a concert. Don’t use it as a bribe (i.e. ‘if you pass, we’ll do this’) and instead just frame it as something fun for you to do together after the exams are over because they’ll deserve a break.