Exam Stress: A Guide for Parents and Carers

There is a large focus in schools placed upon SATS, mock exams and actual GCSE’s. This combined with the impact of a series of lockdowns and restrictions has led to an increase in exam stress for many children and young people. Here are some tips for parents and carers to help you think about how you can support your child:

Teachers usually give children and young people the message that working hard for your exams is important. For some children who are already feeling anxious this can lead to them putting too much extra pressure on themselves.

Talk to your child about how they are feeling and let them know that their feelings are okay and common for many children. Let your child know that their exam results are not the be all and end all, and you love them regardless of their results. Some young children may want to draw a picture or write a story about a character who has exams.

2. Help your child create a sense of balance

In order to achieve the best results, it is important to have a balance of relaxation time, exercise, socialising and healthy eating. An Olympic trainer would advise an athlete to have rest days, and to have a combination or shorter and longer training days, as they know that this is the best way for the athlete to achieve their full potential.

A child or athlete who works too hard without proper balance and rest breaks will potentially wear themselves out.
Try help your child draw up a timetable that includes some revision time, relaxation time, physical activity time, and social time.

3. Do some sport or get some physical exercise

The research is clear, short bouts of moderate, physical activity are great at improving concentration immediately following exercise.

There are two aspects to concentration. The first is sustained attention, in which we’re able to focus on certain pieces of information for prolonged periods of time. The second is executive function, which is our ability to think and make decisions at a complex level. Try this for yourself and I think you will experience the results!

4. Creative approaches to learning and revision

Children have different learning styles. Just sitting down and trying to remember information becomes boring for many people.

You can liven this up in different ways. You could so this by using different coloured pens and stickers, you could interview each other, or pretend to be presenting a TV programme, try drawing pictures or creating visual representations such as doing a Mindmap or poster.

Have a go at involving the senses – walk around the room, sit in different positions, and even sing!

5. Each child is a unique individual

Help your child realise their own individual strengths and encourage them not to compare themselves to others. Who knows if an apple is better than a banana? They are just different, and we need all kinds of people and fruit in this world!

Some children are good at making things or fixing things, some are good at sport, dancing or singing, some people are academic, some people learn when they are relating to people – others learn best on their own. Let’s value difference and diversity.

Quote for the day!
‘Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart’

Help your child be led by their dreams and where they want to be in the future. Ask them to visualise what they would like to be doing in the future and ask them to describe this to you. So often we do things to try and avoid our fears.

If you have tried these tips but would like to find out more about how we could help your child deal with stress, please get in touch by using the form below, or emailing york@theretreatclinics.org.uk or manchester@theretreatclinics.org.uk.