Parents have an important role in supporting their kids through this time, but one of the best things you can do is to relax. Be supportive, rather than overbearing, and help them find a balance where they can take control of their own studies, but also have some relief when the pressure gets too much.
1. Stay organised
Big school events become big family events during these years. A major assessment. A final exam. Even if your child prefers to set reminders on their mobile, having a centralised space (like the kitchen fridge) with a timetable might give you some peace of mind, and create a sense of routine. Having that visualisation of important dates are will help the whole family feel like they're on top of things.
2. Maintain balance
It's important for your child to incorporate some physical activity into their timetable, as this can be beneficial in managing stress - especially when preparing for exams. If they have a part-time job, you might want to agree to restrict it to certain hours, for example, 5-10 hours per week only. For many students, it’s important to stay social and allocate time for family and friends. And if all else fails, simply encouraging your kids to go outside for a break in the fresh air will help relieve some of the pressure.
3. Sleep and healthy eating
It’s important that your child has a nutritious diet and gets enough sleep. There are proven links between what we eat and how much sleep we get, and how our brain functions. Memory, learning ability and emotional states are affected by what we put into our bodies and how rested we are - and to perform at our best, we need to make sure we are eating well and resting up!
Parents, you might have a discussion with your child about eating well and agree on what a regular sleep pattern looks like for them to maintain an effective study timetable.
4. Teachers really do want the best for your child, too
Teachers and the school want students to achieve the best possible outcomes - both for your child as well as the school’s own results. Try to attend parent-teacher information events to keep in the loop. Staying positive and interested in assignments, study, and keeping communication open with teachers will be appreciated, especially if you have any concerns about particular subjects or levels of stress.
5. Technology in moderation
Perhaps your child has more independence with their phone, iPad, or laptop at this stage. However, unfortunately distractions (text messages, Snapchats, Instagram) reduce concentration and the effectiveness of study. Even though kids are good at it, research shows that multi-tasking leads to poor focus and learning habits, and this can be detrimental during important study and exams.
Rather than put a ban on technology, you might set rules for its use, for example, certain times, after study, 10 minutes every hour, or perhaps after an assignment is completed.
6. Stay positive
Words of reinforcement and encouragement go a long, long way - even if it doesn't seem like it at the time. Telling your kids they're awesome will help motivate them to keep studying, even when they've had enough. The pressure of study and exams can cause extreme stress for many students, so having grounded, positive and motivating parents can make a huge difference to their confidence and stress levels.
Be patient and supportive. They will thank you for it (...eventually).
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