Mummy says…As we enter the second month of 2018 many teenagers (and parents) will be frantically revising for GCSE exams, A levels and Btec exams that traditionally occur in May. Big brother Luke has a week of mock GCSE exams this week too! This can be a stressful time for children and parents and sometimes the amount of revision that needs to be completed is overwhelming. Often children have around 11 different subjects to study for, which can feel an impossible task. Schools will be giving plenty of advice to your child on revision techniques, but as parents, what can we do at home to support them?
It’s actually quite difficult to pitch the right level of support a child may need. Some children are naturally motivated and enjoy the task of preparing exam timetables and working to schedule. Other children seem so laid back that actually opening a book appears to be too much effort. (I am not looking at you Luke!!) Motivation (or lack of it!) is a major factor in teenagers, but as parents we need to be a support rather than nag, as pushing a child too much can have a negative effect. It could be that your child isn’t motivated to revise as they feel the amount of work is too much and they are scared of failure.
As a parent you know your child better than anyone else, so it is important to recognise how best your child learns and how much support they will need. The following tips are just a guide and can be adapted around your child’s individual learning needs.
As soon as your child’s exam timetable arrives, draw up a big timetable and stick it on their bedroom wall or study area. Make it colourful and highlight important dates and times. Highlight start times and whether an exam is in the morning or afternoon, accuracy is paramount, you don’t want your child to get confused and totally miss an exam!
There are a number of ways to break down areas of study, one technique would be to look at each subject and list topics and headings. Stick this on the wall too and ask your child to highlight the topics they have studied and feel comfortable with. This will then clearly identify those areas that need to be concentrated on.
The next stage of planning is to sit down with your child and plan a timetable, highlighting the best time in the day for your child to study. Break down study time into achievable hourly chunks, with plenty of breaks. Highlight what subject is going to be studied and when. Of course this is not written in tablets of stone, sometimes it may be more beneficial to continue studying a particular subject rather than suddenly switching. As long as your child can catch up, that’s fine.
To help your child feel motivated ensure that you plan recreation time into the timetable. Your child will be feeling stressed and overwhelmed and time spent away from studying will help them feel energised and rejuvenated.
Provide healthy snacks
Stress can have an impact on their immunity, making them more susceptible to viruses and infection. To counteract this ensure your child is eating healthy foods and that they are eating at regular intervals. Choose foods that are packed with vitamin C to ward off colds.
If your child is feeling overly anxious and stressed, or they are feeling under the weather seek medical advice. For simple remedies to ailments such as coughs and colds you could seek advice from an online pharmacy. Unfortunately exam season also corresponds with the peak season for hay fever. If your child suffers from hayfever ask your medical practitioner for advice on non-drowsy antihistamines that can reduce symptoms without causing tiredness.
As well as healthy snacks, encourage your child to stay hydrated. Being hydrated means that your body (and brain!) can function to its best ability. It is better for your child to avoid drinks containing caffeine and a high sugar content.
Design a workspace
Households can get really noisy and busy, especially if there are other siblings to accommodate. It is really important that you allocate a specific area of your house for your child to study. Ideally this should be in their bedroom, but wherever it is situated other members of the household should know to not disturb your child when studying.
Try to encourage your child to use their desk solely for studying and to keep it clutter free. Ensure they have plenty of files, paper and stationary. Good lighting is essential, as is a power point for laptops and computers. Ask your child if they would like help with organising their notes. Lots of sheets, bits of paper and books can be distracting and overwhelming.
Your child will have probably received advice from school about the best revision guides and notes relating to individual subjects.
Buy or acquire everything that is advised, as they are written around specific exams. It is important to know the examining board to buy the correct book. Usually there are work books accompanying revision notes, which are great at assessing knowledge. The guides are full of hints and tips for answering exam questions too.
The internet is a fantastic resource for revision, bbc bitesize is specifically written around knowledge required for current GCSEs and ALevels. If you look at Youtube it is possible to find videos of actual teachers, teaching specific subject areas again geared towards current exams.
As your child revises, get them to tick off what they have done. It is motivating to see how revision has progressed.
Teenagers have so much pressure to deal with, it is therefore important to stay positive and just act in a supportive role when they need you. Try not to interfere too much and ensure your teenager knows that you will still love them, no matter what their exam results are. Stress and anxiety can hamper learning, so get out together as a family and have some fun!
I wish Luke and all the other teens studying for exams all the luck, and do let me know your tips on how to avoid exam stress!