Exam stress management for parents!
GCSEs are a tough time for students. Its the first major exam series they go through, meaning that many are just getting to grips with effective revision techniques, scheduling, and stress management. There's lots of focus on teachers and parents to help reduce their stress, and get them through year 11.
But what about you?? You've got to get them through their exams without going insane too, and sometimes whilst parenting other kids going through A levels, balancing multiple after school club schedules, family budgeting, and whatever life decides to throw at you. And lets face it, sometimes it doesn't seem like they're actually getting stressed enough to do anything about it, and it can leave you wanting to tear your hair our trying to get them to actually revise for, or even talk about their exams.
I get it - I have these conversations regularly with parents of teenagers under more stress than their teens. It is difficult to watch them go through it, and perhaps even wishing that you could do the exams for them just for an easier life. Unfortunately that's not an option, and they will have to sit the exams themselves, but there are some things that you can do to help.
The first step is always to get them to make a revision schedule, and get real with them about what they can achieve in the time available. Planning for the week ahead makes them much more likely to achieve what they've set out to do. If you head into the week 'blind' with just a to-do list and optimism, life and lethargy will get in the way and none of it will get done. You can download a copy of our revision planning guide here.
But the next challenge is what they're meant to be doing in that time. Some students stare blankly into their textbooks until they fall asleep, and others create a Tate Gallery worthy BuJo notebook for every subject, with coordinated highlighter pens and washi tape. (I know, I had to Google it too... The fanciest my school books got was sticky-backed plastic from Woolworths). What it looks like isn't as important as making sure that their brain is processing that information. They need to be actively processing the content to get anything from it - so this means staring at the book or calligraphy headings are not a good use of time. Creating mind maps, picking out key words for a poster, or recompiling a process from a page of text into a flow diagram are much more useful revision techniques. Also, discussing with and explaining to someone else are great learning techniques as they have to develop their communication of the topic. So once they've made a poster, ask them to tell you what it means, and explain the key words to you.
And alongside all this, do make sure they're looking after themselves. It is far too tempting to leave things to the last minute, get distracted by Netflix and Snapchat and then stay up all night fuelled on caffeine and junk food. This is where Parent Pro-level Personal Care is required. Don't let them forget the basics - 8-9 hours of sleep per night, keep hydrated, eat good food, drop the caffeine, and remember that all anyone is asking is that they do their best.
If there's anything we can help with, be that a space on our Revision Masterclass, some specific revision resources, or personal tuition, give us a shout. Another couple of months and all this will be a memory, until August and results day. Best of luck to you!