Surviving Exam Time – You and Them!

With a week and a half to go until the State exams start, I can almost hear the collective tip-toeing of parents in houses across the country. What should we do? They’re probably home from school this week as “I can study better at home”. Should I wake him? Should I let her sleep in for a while? How can I suggest that they might do some study today, without freaking them out? It’s a damned if I do and damned if I don’t scenario, or is it?

For students are doing exams, they know themselves how much they still have to do and they don’t need us to police this for them. The common belief is to have them up early working to a study timetable. What they need most at this time is love and support.

So here are some tips for your survival kit!

#1 Chat to your child and remind them that it’s only an exam. And it is. Only. An. Exam. For Junior Certs this is their first taste of the State exam system. Talk them through it. Take the fear out of it for them. It’s a way of measuring the work they’ve done over the previous three years. It’s not a measure of them. You’ll still love them and they’ll still go into TY or 5th year, regardless of the results.

#2 Try to keep the atmosphere in the house friendly and light. There’s enough uncertainty and negativity going through their minds and you need to counteract that. Just by being there and letting them know that you’re in their corner, can make a huge difference.

#3 Encourage them to go for walks or take the bike out. Fresh air and some exercise always help our mood. Go for a walk with them and talk about something other than the exams. Let them off to meet their friends.

#4 Cook their favourite food. Keep a supply of snacks that they like, even the rubbishy stuff you normally disapprove of!

#5 If you are anxious, talk it over with friends, but don’t let it flow onto your child. They have enough of their own. Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and mindfulness – these do work!

#6 Help your child to deal with their anxieties. This is probably the biggest thing that has happened in their life so far, but there are many bigger ones to come. Helping them deal with anxiety is teaching them a skill that will help them over and over again through life.

#7 Have some spare biros, calculator etc – just in case. Check their timetable and help them be organised and on time. If you can, be there when they get home.

#8 Don’t have post-mortems over exams. The job is done and there’s nothing to be achieved. Young people are very good at catastrophising and post-mortems only encourage this. Rather than “How was it?” try “How are you now?” and divert them to something else.

#9 And when it’s all over, have a celebration and then forget all about school! There’s nothing you or they can do now so, go enjoy the summer.

Now’s the time to love-bomb them! It’s only an exam!

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