Easter is behind us and it won’t be long until the Summer holidays are upon us. Before we look to time off though, many children and teenagers will have exam season to look forward to.
I spoke to Katie Matthews from The Mind Tribe UK to find out how we can best support our children through this potentially stressful time.
The following is a guest post.
How can I support my child’s mental health and wellbeing during exam season?
The dreaded “E” word – exams! This can be a very stressful time for students as well as parents and teachers who have their best interests at heart.
So now comes the major question – what can we actually do to support our young people, as they traverse the next few weeks challenges? Is there anything we can do as adults to support their mental health and well-being throughout exam season?
Things you can say and do to support your child:
Assist them with creating a revision timetable (if they would like help!)
Sometimes, just asking if they would like some help and support can make the whole process feel a little less overwhelming
Ask them if they are okay
Is there anything they would like to talk about? Do they need a bit of reassurance, a cup of tea or just a hug? Really listen to what they are saying- give them your full attention without judgment.
Positive encouragement and support
Regular praise, encouragement and positive language towards school, revision and their upcoming exams can help to motivate students and foster self-confidence.
Establish an appropriate space for revision
Create a space that is calm, quiet and will allow them to fully focus. The more they focus, the quicker the tasks will be completed, the more productive their sessions will be and the more effective their learning sessions will be.
Healthy fuel for their bodies and minds can make a huge difference as it can be easy to fall into the trap of carbs, sugar and energy drinks!
Chunking and breaks
Gently advise them to break down the tasks into short, manageable segments allowing for short breaks in between to get up and move around, have a “brain break”, get a snack/drink or blast some music!
Resources & Materials
There are lots of free educational apps you can get, many websites that have free resources you can download, as well as online revision tools and videos. Also, if you are in a position to do so, they may appreciate purchasing some flashcards, stationary, highlighters, a whiteboard or any other resources that will help them to revise effectively.
Are they getting enough sleep?
Their developing brains need to rest and have time to process the information they are absorbing as well as time for recovery throughout this stressful time. Ideally, 8 hours of good quality sleep is recommended.
Relaxation Aids & Time-Out
Stress balls, stretchy men, slime, fidget cubes, sensory balls, lava lamps, and classical music are all good places to start if your child finds it hard to sit still or concentrate for extended periods of time. Shorter sessions of focused revision are much more productive than extended periods laboring the same topic or question.
These are all activities that you can do together as a family or you can suggest they do on their own. They are new skills that can benefit all ages and can assist us in managing stress levels, reducing anxiety and increase happiness, positivity, and confidence. There are free apps you can get for these also, so you are paying nothing for feeling better and more relaxed.
We all know there are huge benefits to physical exercise which can help to release any stress, anxiety or frustration they are feeling and can provide an outlet for extra energy to be used up! Additionally, if they already play a sport or go to a club, keep them at it! It can have a negative impact on their mental health if they suddenly stop attending things in the exam period that bring them happiness or give them an outlet. If they don’t play a sport, maybe you could go for a walk together?
Allow them time off to socialise
It gives them something to look forward to and a well-deserved break when they have been hard at work
Finally, a chores hiatus!
If you are feeling super generous, you could even give them a little time off from completing their chores or just a wee reduction in the amount. I’m sure this one will definitely not go unappreciated!
If you would like any further advice or support please don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Mind Tribe UK www.themindtribeuk.com or visit the facebook page www.facebook.com/themindtribeuk