Whether you are living with a Year 12 student, facing the toughest period of their secondary school careers with the finality and pressure of VCE exams or you are supporting your secondary school aged child to manage study time effectively during their end of semester exams, the question remains the same. How do we help them get through exam periods?
At a time where nothing seems more important than the looming test or exam, encouraging students to step out of study mode is crucial for their mental health, learning and exam success. Focus is wonderful and essential to succeed during this period of high stress but without the opportunity to take a break from the pressure young people can be vulnerable to burn out. So, to avoid extreme physical and mental exhaustion, encourage your child to find a regular activity that helps them take a break or ‘switch off’, preferably away from a screen or device. Get outside, go for a walk, play a sport, garden, do some yoga/meditation, read for pure enjoyment (not study related), visit a friend or family member. Self-care is about connecting and looking after ourselves on a deeper level so encourage your child to engage in activities that allows them to regularly take a break from the craziness and intensity of exam period.
Talking is an obvious one here and it’s easy to believe that we are communicating effectively with our child when we are going about our lives but I’m talking more about the quality of communication here. Keep the lines of communication open (yes, this can be challenging to do with a stressed-out teenager) but find a way that works for you and your child. Does your child love to connect with you over a cup of tea or a walk around the block? Keeping the lines of communication open during stressful times allows you to get a better idea of what they need in terms of support during the exam period. Ideally, working this out in the lead up to exams is ideal but not always a reality for many families. Here are some topics/questions to use as a starting point:
– What do you need right now to help you get through this exam?
– Help them put the exam within a bigger picture context.
– Have realistic conversations about their study goals/plans.
– Who could help me with this problem right now (eg. Parent, teacher, tutor)? What steps do I need to take to get the help I need?
Get on the ‘Brain Break’ bandwagon
If you haven’t heard of a ‘brain break’ before then you can read all about it here: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/brain-breaks-focused-attention-practices-lori-desautels
The benefits of regular ‘brain breaks’ are well researched and evidenced as a tool to assist with re-setting the brains approach to a task, problem or situation. Help your child get on board with ‘brain breaks’ by explaining how they can make it part of their ‘toolbox’ for stress management. The internet has a plethora of great ‘brain break’ examples and activities that vary in time from quick 2 minutes to longer 20 minute breaks.
Until next time..