EXAMINATION – a word that makes students cringe in apprehension! Nothing can terrify children more than the thought of writing an exam. In fact, exam stress has assumed such alarming proportions that it has prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pen a book, Exam Warriors. Even as the students get valuable tips from PM Modi on handling exams without anxiety, ParentCircle presents expert tips on how parents can help their child beat the exam stress. For, regardless of the apprehension associated with exams, it is an integral part of the education system. There’s no escaping it. You can at least manage it better. While your child actually writes the exam, you have an important role to play in helping him deal with exam-related anxieties.
Frantic February – the month before the exams
What parents should do
Although preparing your child for the final exams is a year-long process, it’s never too late to sit with him and draw up a ‘quick’ plan as stated below.
1. Self-tests: In the weeks leading up to the final exams, prepare some sample test papers by collating questions from old test papers. Ask your child to solve the sample papers while keeping track of the time he takes to solve each test paper. Once he finishes writing the answers, sit with him and compare his answers with the old answer sheet. Alternatively, ask his teacher to do a quick evaluation and give a feedback. This exercise will serve the dual purpose of boosting your child’s confidence and giving him the opportunity to work on his weaknesses.
Note: Do not let your child write more than two sample tests a day. It may tire him mentally.
2. Revision: Make your child realise the importance of revision. It would serve as practice and drill. Revising the lessons should ideally be done on days 1, 3, 5, 7, 14 and 21 of the month before the exam. Following this schedule will help prevent last-minute cramming before the exams.
Note: Draw up a calendar of the revision cycle with all the subjects marked against the dates. Pin this calendar on your child’s board.
Once she has finished revising a subject, ask her to mark the completed revision sessions in green. Seeing the completed calendar at the end of the month will boost your child’s confidence.
3. Sleep: It is a proven fact that a well-rested mind is efficient and productive. So, encourage your child to sleep well. It will help him concentrate better while also sharpening his memory. Sleep also calms the nerves and helps your child deal with stress.
Note: For children aged 6–16 years, a minimum of eight hours of sleep is a must. To ensure that they are up bright and early, it needs to be ‘lights off’ at a decent hour.
4. Pep talk: Nothing boosts a child’s confidence more than words of encouragement from parents. So, go ahead and become your child’s biggest ‘cheerleader’. Also, encourage him to engage in positive self-talk. Phrases like, ‘I can do this,’ or ‘With hard work nothing is impossible’, can go a long way in helping a child develop a positive frame of mind.
Note: Write positive phrases and words of encouragement on sticky notes and stick them all over the house – the fridge, the mirrors, your child’s study board and room door.
5. Catch a breather: The mind requires times to process, evaluate and store information. So, encourage your child to take regular breaks between study sessions. A good break will help her assess what she has just studied while also refreshing her for the next session. Ideally, your child should take a break after every 45–60 minutes.
Note: Make sure to stock up on healthy snacks and beverages. A quick munch will provide your child with the much-needed energy and also help her relax better. Other ways of utilising break-time could be a 10-minute TV session, some time-out at a nearby park or simply family time.
6. WhatsApp status: BUSY! – Social media has become a necessary evil; but, do not allow it to distract your child from his studies. All the study plans will fail if your child does not restrict his access to social media platforms. Encourage him to cut down on the time he spends on social media until his exams are over. Ask him to set alarms to check his messages or to update his statuses.
Note: Lead by example. Put up a board saying, ‘Facebook/WhatsApp-Free-time’. Encourage all family members to curb their activity on social media platforms during the exam season.
7. Stay healthy: Taking care of your child’s health is one of your most important duties during the exam season. Provide her with a balanced diet and keep a check on what she eats during the exam season.
Note: Make it a ‘No junk-food’ month. Skip eating out or ordering food from outside before and during the exam season. Encourage your child to perform mild physical exercises to boost her mood, concentration and overall well-being.
Inputs from Dr Era Dutta, a consultant psychiatrist at Fortis S L Raheja Hospital, Mumbai.
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