Picture this: It’s the night before an important examination. You’re through with your final rounds of revision. You’ve solved every mock test there is and aced them all. You roll over to your bag, check if you have all your notes and stationery packed; you’re prepared! Cut to the morning of the test. You’ve flipped your question paper over and peruse it. ‘Differentiate between chemical and physical changes and provide examples.’
‘Easy!’ you think to yourself, ‘I’ve done this plenty of times.’ But when it’s finally time to put pen to paper, you find your mind as blank as the answer sheet on your desk. Seems familiar, doesn’t it?
Choking under the immense pressure to perform well during exams is a common occurrence that affects children universally; finals season is synonymous with stress season. While it is the students appearing for the exams, more often than not, their parents too undergo stress and exam blues. This may in turn, elevate if not add to the child’s stress levels.
Needless to say, exam stress can be a real nightmare. But the reality is that there are several ways to help your child cope with exams and bust the stress. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your child is stress free through their exams:
1. Calm amid Chaos: It is normal for your child to find themselves a little frazzled or overwhelmed right before their exams. Recognize these signs of stress and talk to your child about it. If they find themselves in a calm environment, they are more likely to respond positively to the exam stress and prepare better. Your calm attitude will help your child model the same and will successfully be able to contain themselves in a stressful situation. A great way to help contain stress-levels during exams has got to be music. Whether it’s learning to play an instrument such as the guitar or piano, dancing to groovy tunes or simply just listening to your favourite artist’s numbers is extremely soothing and therapeutic.
2. Cut Out the Comparison and Criticism: Every child has a different threshold and retainment ability. Comparing their ability or performance with other children will most likely backfire. Therefore, reassuring your child and encouraging them to do their best instead of criticizing them will bear fruitful results.
3. Camaraderie & Creativity: Exams are stressful, yes. But getting through this as a team automatically alleviates the pre-exam crazies. Additionally, finding creative ways to learn is always a better idea than relentless hours of rote memorization. One way to do this would be to help your child chalk-out a schedule well in advance. Making fun flashcards is another fun way to learn and study. Enrolling for engaging and interactive online classes before exams is an extremely effective and beneficial way of learning and retaining new information. These online courses approach academics from an interdisciplinary lens, merging art and academics and making learning a very fruitful experience for your child.
4. Brain-breaks Make You Brighter!: Taking regular breaks in between constant hours of studying strengthens your ability to concentrate and retain more information. A quick puzzle or even just resting in your bed or seat are great ways to get your mind off studies for a bit. Listening to a podcast or soulful music for mental wellness is also another way to utilise your study break. It relaxes you while keeping mindful and alert.
5. Drive Away Distractions: Even the ceiling is the most fascinating view for someone who is in the middle of taking exams. While you can’t really do much about that, you can always help your child keep distractions such as smartphones, iPads, Netflix and video games at bay for the time being. If complete abstinence is not a possibility, then limiting the amount of time spent on activities apart from studies is also a steady start.
6. Set Smart Standards: You know what your child is capable of. While keeping calm and helping them make time routines, it is also imperative to keep in mind their own intrinsic ability to perform during examinations. It is, therefore, extremely important that the goals set for your child are measurable, achievable and realistic. Do you know a great tool that helps sharpen your child’s mind? Yes, you guessed it! Music most definitely aids in mental sharpness and smartness.
While all these tips definitely help assuage stress, things such as adequate sleep, exercise and diet also contribute to the overall stress levels, physiologically and psychologically. Therefore, a well-balanced, holistic lifestyle is the lynchpin to better performance in achievement-centric situations such as examinations. These tips are also applicable to daily life and stressors that are not necessarily related to exams but to any setting that assesses your performance or skill under a pressure heavy environment.