Contributed by Jennifer Dawson
Photo by Gaelle Marcel
Whether or not your child enjoys school or is struggling with some subjects, exam time is nearly always stressful, especially during preparation for ACTs/SATs, the results of which could determine what candidates will be doing for the next few years. It is important for parents to ensure they help children relieve stress and focus on what is important, by gently making a few suggestions that their children will find useful rather than burdensome.
Focusing on Teacher Provided Material
The one thing most teens don’t lack when exam time pops around, is books. While it is tempting to go the extra mile and buy material focused on preparing for specific exams, your kids will probably already be snowed under by revision material, notes, required viewing, etc.
To help teens out, focus on past papers, particularly free ACT exams and similar materials, which will test kids on what they should know, rather than provide them with further material they couldn’t possibly memorize by test day.
Past and practice tests will enable kids to hone time management skills and help guide them towards key areas of their subject.
For main subjects, Khan Academy is an excellent online resource in which students can type in specific terms and find short videos explaining everything from calculus to physics problems.
Suggesting Healthy Outlets for Stress
Even during exam time, teens should be physically active; they shouldn’t drop all sports simply because they are studying for exams. Exercise has been proven to battle stress and lift the mood, but also to promote better sleep – which is more important than ever during exam time. Cardiovascular and strength exercises both work well to eliminate excess stress, but yoga and mindfulness meditation are specifically good for those battling anxiety and panic attacks.
Through yoga and meditation, your child will learn to use pranayamic breathing and mindfulness techniques as means to stop worry and fear in their tracks. Controlled breathing will instantly stop their fight or flight response from going into full swing, both during exam preparation and just before or during an exam.
Being There for the Basics
Help your child free up as much time as possible by providing them with a healthy, light meal at nights, and try to free up some of your own time for when your child feels burdened and needs to let off some steam with a good laugh or conversation.
By the late teenage years, kids already know they need to study and tend to put in as much effort as is required, but often, you are their strongest source of support during what is arguably one of the most stressful times in their life as a student.
By the time your children are sitting tough exams like the SATs or ACTs, they will probably have learned a thing or two about time management, study techniques, strategies, etc. Help them out with free online resources, make sure they are getting enough exercise and following a healthy diet, and remember that what they most need from you, is usually your support and time.