Exam time for parents can be as stressful, some times more so, than for the pupils writing the exams. For those parents whose first born is sitting external exams for the first time, the next few months could be especially difficult. But creating a relaxing and calm environment at home is going to be vital for all of you. As the parent or carer, you have the task of establishing and maintaining an environment that is conducive to effective and efficient revision. And it is easier than you think.
Create a Calm home
The home needs to be as calm as possible. Having a routine that everyone can follow would help. Regular meal times. Regular times when the family can be together just for a bit of chat and banter. But that does not mean you cannot be flexible. But give your child enough warning that you are, for example, having friends round for dinner. Allow them the time to plan ahead so that they can either enjoy the dinner with you, or have a night off with their own friends. Encourage your child to have a diary or schedule that everyone can see. But it does not have to be cast in stone. Flexibility is key.
There needs to be an agreement about quiet times. Your child needs to feel confident that if they want to get some work done, everyone is going to make it possible. Close the TV room door. Keep other noises to a minimum. Encourage headphones where possible.
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to have a separate study. If that is possible, allow your child to take over a room in the house that becomes their study. If not, encourage a neat and tidy desk in the bedroom. A desk that is organised and can be cleared very quickly at bed time. No-one should get into bed with a messy desk and incomplete work looking back at them. At the end of each day, the desk needs to be tidied up with everything put away in its normal space. It helps create order and calm.
This is going to be tough time for you. But try and keep those nerves hidden from your child. They need to see you calm and confident. A stressed parent can only lead to a stressed child. You need to make sure that you have time to unwind. Get some exercise. Keep your social life as normal as possible. A hovering, nervous parent makes revision very difficult. If you need some help in how to stay calm, there is nothing wrong asking for it. Especially if this is your first time.
Diet and Sleep
You all need to be eating as healthy a diet as you can. For the brain to function at optimal level it needs sustenance. Read up on exam time eating. It will benefit all of you. And then make sure that you are all sleeping well. Someone who is tired, cannot concentrate and that makes the stress worse. If you are all well rested, conflict in the home will be minimal. If it does raise its head, you will be able to deal with it. This comes back to routine. Establishing a bed time routine that everyone buys into, creates a home where your child feels that you are all in this together. Feeling supported is essential.
If you need some guidance on how to keep an eye on your child’s mental health during exam time, read this.