Address Anxiety During Exam Preparation
As in everything in life, there are both positives and negatives. However, we have the ability to choose what we want to focus on. This is sometimes easier said than done as we always want to have control over the outcomes in our lives but we do not have control over everything and that is a fact whether we like it or not. During the exam preparation season, there are both negatives and positives that come about. When we focus on the negatives which usually are the things that are beyond our control, this escalates our anxiety and stress levels. On the contrary, when we focus on the things within our control, this helps us to focus on the positives and have gratitude for what we have the ability to change. I want to encourage you as a parent to focus on the things you can control so that you can support your child to the best of your ability during this exam season to help them cope in a healthy and positive manner.
Some of the things that you are concerned about but do not have control over include:
The desire to have your child return to school to have physical interactions with their teacher
The teacher is not engaging or doing enough to help your child learn and deliver the curriculum
The desire to extend the date of the exam since this year's students were not fortunate to have any in-class interactions and last year's exam was in August
The contents of the curriculum and what your child is required to learn
Focusing on the above brings negative thoughts and trying to change these things will be futile especially in the short space of time remaining before exams. Therefore these are the aspects in this exam preparation journey that you must accept and let go of. Instead, you can choose to focus on the things both you and your child have control over which includes the following:
Preparing and Supporting your child for exams
Creating and Sticking to a study timetable (When)
A study timetable creates structure and adds calm to your child's day to avoid them from waking up each morning puzzled as to how they can spend their day. This helps to reduce anxiety and puts into perspective the date and time your child is required to learn various subjects. The frequency of studying each subject or topic depends on the subjects your child is stronger in and which subjects they need to improve so that additional time is allocated towards these subjects. Furthermore, a study timetable helps to identify your child's break periods in which I like to refer to as their self-care time. Within your child's study timetable, you can include the time for important activities like eating so that you can help your child maintain their healthy habits and build a solid routine.
Organizing Study Space and Materials (Where)
It is essential to assist your child with organizing their study space to be an environment they thoroughly enjoy being in. An environment that is not only clean but also fun, colorful and creative to appeal to their desire to be in the space for the intended purpose of studying. A well-organized study space is also very relaxing where the child can be comfortable while diligently studying. Ensure that your child has all the required materials needed for studying so there is no need to get up for any additional items even if it's a bottle of water because constantly moving from the space acts as a distraction.
The content and approach to your Child's Studies (What and How)
The content your child learns should be dependent on the syllabus and what is required for your child to learn. Therefore, I recommend that you source the syllabus and work with your child to ensure that they learn all that is required to learn through mapping the topics with their study timetable. The approach or how your child learns is dependent on their unique learning style and multiple intelligence. Your child will be able to enjoy and remember all that they learn easily when the content of what your child is required to learn appeals to their learning style.
The reason behind studying for the exam (Why)
Whenever there is a strong reason behind doing something, this forms the internal guide for doing it and this keeps one disciplined and motivated on their journey. The reason for studying is not to pass an exam! The reason for studying is to obtain and develop the necessary skills and knowledge for one's future destiny, that is, one's career and/or purpose. It is always important to remember that an exam result does not represent the amount of knowledge a person has. An exam is put in place to reach another level on the journey. Allow your child to thoroughly learn to gain the knowledge that will help them on their journey as they grow in life. Encourage your child to think and talk about their future goals and plans for life so that exams do not pose as intimidating to them. In everything, the mindset towards anything is important for success.
Ensuring your child practices their Self-Care
"Self-care is a routine, not a reward or an escape. Self-care must be practiced as often as possible on one's educational journey." Dawsher Charles. Making reference to the study timetable where breaks are actually self-care periods is where self-care becomes a routine. The reason why it is important to practice self-care often is to avoid the build-up of stress and anxiety that leads to extreme pressure on the body and brain causing one to function less efficiently. In these instances, a child may divert to using unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, self-harm, substance abuse or any form of coping that can further cause harm to self and even others. Therefore, ensuring your child regularly engages in de-stressor activities by being engaged in what they enjoy will ensure they remain healthy throughout the entire exam season. Examples of self-care or de-stressor activities include painting, coloring, craft activities and even journaling, get our journaling prompts for your child here.
Testing your child's memory, recollection and understanding
Allowing your child to practice past papers is a great way to test their memory and recollection of the information they learn. This is also a great way to test whether the approach they are using to learn is effective. If there are challenges in the memory and recollection of information, reassess the methods your child is using to study and incorporate new and fun methods that are engaging to them such as using cue cards, utilizing a whiteboard, poetry or even using music to enhance their learning.
To solidify everything that was mentioned above, it is essential that your child regularly affirms to themselves that everything is working out for the best. Here is our Student Affirmations Bank that your child can use for calm and confidence during this exam preparation season. Download here. Remember to seek the support of a therapist or psychologist if things are becoming overbearing for both you and your child to cope.