Whose exams are they anyway?
Exam time can make even strong parents tremble. Handle it better, says Susan Smith.
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So, your bundle of joy has turned into an aggressive little upstart won’t study, watches too much TV, sits in front of the computer, cellphone or Mxit. It is exam time for heaven’s sake! Doesn’t your child know that?  Your pulse is racing, you have a hot flush, you are ready to explode and Johnny or Jane seem to be ‘chilling’ and expect you to ‘chill’.

Even Grade 4s are expected to sit still and concentrate on their studies for formal assessments, so it’s never too early to get your child used to a good exam routine.

Support your kids; it is not easy for them. Not all children know how to study.  If necessary, take them to a professional for study guidance. An educational psychologist specializing in study techniques will show them how to make mind-maps, effective summaries, how to write essays, answer exam questions and relaxation techniques.

  • Ask your children to write the realistic mark they would like to see on their report card for each subject on a piece of paper. You don’t have to see it or argue about it, but they should push themselves to get those marks.
  • Help them create a sensible study time-table, which will include TV time and computer time. Relaxation is just as important to get the best out of study time. Teach children about the importance of breathing properly and how it relates to anxiety. Massage their shoulders and neck or make an appointment with a trained therapist if need be – this will show you really care and understand, and will help your child with the anxiety and stress they are experiencing.  
  • For older grades help them get hold of the study guides they might need, obtain old exam papers and so on. Old exam papers can be downloaded from the education departments’ website – with model answers. These prepare them for the type of questions that may be asked, plus, how the examiner expects them to answer.  In addition, by working through answers, they are learning simultaneously.

Study guides also give possible questions, with answers, summaries etc which for some children make more sense than the work they received at school. Using these tools will take a great deal of stress off your child as they will not feel as intimidated when faced with exam papers.

Show them da money?

Shock! Horror! Some parents will be mad with me when they read this. Think about it. Kids need goals. If they achieve it, pay them. If you see they worked really hard, and just missed the target, get them something small and write a supportive note.

The day of the exam

Buy them a good luck card and a chocolate, and leave it on their desk. You can make them breakfast in bed on exam days, relax a bit about their chores, buy ‘study munchies’ and other nice things that make exams a special time for the kids. These are some things that a parent can do, to show they understand, care and want the best for them.  

Be supportive, caring and understanding. Be strong and follow through with the plan, encouraging your child to be part of the plan.

Once the results are positive as they will be, your child will not have much resistance the next time, but trust that you know what you are doing. They will see that planning and working ahead, effectively yields results.

What do you think a parent’s role is during exams?

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