Exam time is often stressful for children, but many parents suffer from exam anxiety too, worrying about revision and their kids' performance.
In a recent survey, UK parents were polled about the affect their children's exams have on them. Turns out, quite a lot. Have a look:
It's good for parents to have an interest in their children's revision, exam writing and overall academic success. But, warns Claudia Swartzberg of online learning platform Top Dog Education, this may not have a positive effect on their children.
"We often come across parents who are stressed about their children’s exams and studying, and in some cases, they’re even more worried than their kids are,” says Claudia. “Parents' stress can have a negative effect on their child’s self-esteem and even performance, which might even perpetuate the cycle of stress," she says.
So how can you channel your anxieties and support them better?
To alleviate parental exam stress, and to help them with their children’s learning and revision, Claudia offers the following tips for parents:
1. Identify your child’s best way to learn
Try to identify how your child enjoys studying best, and adopt strategies around that. For example, kinaesthetic learners like to learn via movement such as dancing, counting fingers, gestures or even acting. Auditory learners absorb information the best through sound such as songs and recordings, while visual learners study best through picture stories, shapes, mind maps and even paintings.
2. Create a great learning environment
A good atmosphere and comfortable learning space can lead to productive learning and revision. Ensure your child has what they need to thrive, whether it’s sufficient light and quiet, or a comfortable chair and the necessary stationery.
3. Get them to teach
A good way to get children to understand what they are learning, or to just practice their revision, is for them to “teach” you. Ask your child to pretend they’re the teacher, and go through a mock “lesson”.
4. Spread out revision
It’s difficult for anyone to concentrate on learning for long periods of time, so ensure your child is taking short breaks between revision bursts.
5. Support them
Studying is not always fun or easy, so praise your children when they are working hard. Encourage rather than threaten, as kids don’t need more stress during exam pressure. If they do get stressed, try to respond to their emotions by listening, reassuring them, or hugging them. Once they’ve calmed down, you can deal with practical solutions, such as setting up a revision timetable, or getting the necessary help they might need.
6. Ensure they’re sleeping sufficiently
Sleep is important to not only give children mental and physical rest, but to consolidate what’s been learnt during the day. Ensure their room is dark as light interferes with melatonin (the hormone needed for sleep) production. The blue light emitted by tablets and phones can also be disruptive to sleep.
7. Set up rewards
Incentivise studying and exams not necessarily through material rewards or “prizes”, but through fun activities that children can look forward to after a series of revisions or after an exam. Incentives can include a dinner out at a restaurant, or watching sport or series together. Or better yet, ask them what they want to do the most.
"Parents needn’t feel alone with their children’s curriculum and revision. The key is to ensure a personalised and powerful learning experience which can also be achieved through technology interventions," concludes Claudia.
How stressed is your household during exam time? What do you do as parent to alleviate the tension and support your child with revision and studying? Share your advice, anonymously if you wish, with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish it.