With exam season starting for both GCSE, AS and A Levels I thought I’d offer a teachers perspective on why routines are important and how parents / carers can help. There is no doubt that this can be an unsettling time for teens who will be putting themselves under pressure even if you as a parent are not. However research has shown that parental support is eight times more important than social class when looking at how well students have achieved.
Our children are told frequently how important these exams are and make no mistake they are. They maybe a stepping stone to the next chapter but they won’t get their without the grades. Hopefully by now they are into the swing of revision and have worked out how to revise. But there is still ways that you as a parent can take some of the pressure off and help them.
1. Keep talking. As simple as it sounds keep communicating with your teen. How are they feeling and do ask what you can do to help them. They may just need someone to off load to. This week I feel that I have been split in two with chatting to Dylan when he gets home (it is his SAT’s week) and then being there for Chloe (GCSE). I found making them a hot chocolate in the evening is most appreciated or an Oreo milkshake for after school treat this little touches just show that you are there supporting them.
2. Think about what food they are eating. Lots of healthy food is really important for stabilising mood and giving them an even blood sugar. It is easy to turn to junk food when under pressure which then just makes you feel lethargic and tired. Try eggs for breakfast and salmon. Make a fruit salad for them to take to school. Finally drinking plenty of water (or squash) keeps them hydrated and alert.
3. Stick to a bedtime routine. It is very easy to fall into bad habits at bedtime by going to bed late if there is no exam the following day, or getting up late and having a lie in a comfy bed, eight hours sleep is recommended for teenagers and there is some great advice from the sleep council on why this is important.
4. Keep track of which exam is when and help where you can. Reading notes, asking questions, reading their essays these all help and you don’t need to understand it all to help them. Past papers and mark schemes are readily available on the internet. Likewise there are some great revision sites that can be used to mix the revision up a bit. I do think there is a balance between being supportive and nagging so be careful! We have the exam timetable on the fridge so we can all see it and there won’t be any forgetting of exams. Seriously as a teacher you would be amazed at how many students get the wrong day or forget to arrive for an exam.
5. Build some relaxation into the week. Going for a swim or a walk is really useful. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we need to help our teens get the balance right. Maybe a meal out over the weekend and also seeing friends is important. However I’m wary of friends revising together – it onlyy works for a few. More time is spent making sandwiches otherwise!
Once the exam season is done there is plenty of time for relaxing and seeing friends so do remind your teen that it is only for a six weeks or so. Then they can forget about it until August and results day!
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post