Exam anxiety and stress are prevalent, especially in subjects such as maths. It is perfectly normal to freak out, and it can sometimes be termed as healthy. However, too much stress and anxiety can be crippling, affecting a student’s performance.
Often, involved parents ask what they can do to help their children cope with the exam stress. When it comes to main exams, parents get involved to know how best they can make their children comfortable during the exams. Whether it is paying for JC maths tuition or spending time them revising, there are various things parents can do to help their children deal with the pressure.
Learn to Recognize the Exam Stress Symptoms
If you have been paying for the best maths tuition centre, you may think your work is complete. Yes, it’s good to trust the tutors to prepare your child. However, you can also watch out for stress symptoms when the exams are about to start allowing you to know what to do. As a result, you will be able to support your child to flourish during this time.
Each child displays exam stress and anxiety differently. They can be grumpy and withdraw from engaging with other people. Others tend to regress and have childlike behaviour that they may have outgrown. Since there are no definitive stress symptoms, you can watch out for the following traits:
- Unable to cope with revision and they become overwhelmed.
- Experiencing pressure from both school and home
- They keep talking about fear to fail their exams
- Negative self-talk
- Losing perspective where they think their whole life will fall apart if they fail their exams
- Unable to sleep, eating too much, losing appetite, and biting their nails
- They stop enjoying activities they used to love
- Headaches and stomachaches
Once you have noticed these symptoms, it is good to step in and reassure your child by offering much-needed support. Please encourage them to talk about their feelings to you or a member of the school staff. They can also talk about their problematic areas with their math tutor for additional support.
Ensure They Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is crucial to how well a student performs in school. It is much more important during exams. As a parent, you play a crucial role in ensuring your child gets enough sleep to help them deal with difficult mathematic problems when they sit for the exam. For this reason, you need to ensure they do not take their electronic devices to bed during the revision period.
Catching up with their friends on social media before they sleep will cut back on the hours of sleep they need. As a result, they will wake up when exhausted and irritable. They will also be too tired for the exam, increasing their stress and inability to perform well. Calmly explain why they do not need the devices for this duration and offer it as a reward for doing well in their exam. You can also cut off the internet before bedtime to allow them enough time to rest.
Encourage Physical Activities
Exercise helps boost energy levels, improves clarity, and relieves stress. The type of exercise you choose does not matter: Whether it is walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, football or running around the neighbourhood with other children. As you invest in a math tuition teacher, also ensure your child engages in extracurricular activities.
Ensure They Eat Well
Growing children need to eat a balanced diet. It allows them to have all the necessary energy for various activities. A well-balanced diet also ensures your child is healthy during the exam period. You can avoid foods high in fat, sugar, and caffeine such as cola, energy drinks, chocolate, sweets, and burgers, as they can make your child more irritable.
Instead, ensure your child is taking healthy snacks and foods. Additionally, before they leave the house, ensure they take a healthy breakfast, include fruits and vegetables in most of their meals to keep them healthy.
Apart from healthy meals, ensure your child is drinking enough water. Also, watch out for any eating disorders which may affect their health and involve appropriate physicians for intervention before it becomes an ingrained problem.
Set Up a Study Space for Them
You may probably have already done this in the wake of COVID-19. However, if you are yet to, it is good to help your child to set up a study area at home. If it’s already set up, you can look for ways to improve the space to give them more resources.
When you create an orderly space, you help boost their ability to sit and concentrate on their revision. A study area also gives a student sense of control. They can choose their desired desk colour or ideal setup. If they participate in the process, they may feel more ownership of the study area, which will make them more relaxed and comfortable as they study.
Additionally, as a parent, you need to ensure they have all the equipment they will need when studying. You also need to get rid of distractions from the study area. For example, social media is a huge distraction, with studies showing that 3 out of 5 students increase their social media screen time during exams. It is a form of self-medicating which leads to increased stress and anxiety.
Help Them Study
After providing all the financial and material support, you can go a step further by helping your child study. First, you can ask them where you can help them study. Additionally, you can help them develop strategies for revising, such as looking for past papers for practice or drawing up a revision schedule.
If you are not very conversant with the topic, you can openly admit this and encourage your child to teach you. One of the best ways to internalize something is to teach it to others. It will help them understand the topics and improve their confidence which reduces their anxiety. Additionally, you can hire a math tutor to work with your child, helping them tackle the problematic areas.
Talk About the Exam Anxiety
We began by stating that exam nerves are common. Express the same to your child. You can share your own experience. It allows them to realize that they are not alone, and other children are probably going through the same. As a result, they can calm down.
During this talk, you can seek to understand the underlying cause. If it’s a lack of enough preparation, remind them that it’s never too late to start. Advise them to express the same to their mathematics tuition teacher before the exams to practice more.
Additionally, you can help them focus on what they know and remind them of the time they have spent preparing for the exam. If the cause is an underlying fear of the future, you need to address this issue as a parent.
Remind your child that there is life after the exams. It may seem scary to talk about failure. However, it can help your child cope and deal with the stress of the upcoming exam. When you take the fear of the unknown out of the way, your child knows they have support which gives them confidence in their ability to perform well during the exam.
Don’t Be the Source of the Stress
When it comes to main exams, many parents can unknowingly be the cause of the pressure. Often children feel pressure to perform from their families. Whether you have taken your child through o level math tuition, JC tuition, or any other level, you need to be calm and give your child support.
Avoid criticizing them before they take an exam. If your child needs time away from their study desk, be there to provide support. Help them find a balance between study and relaxation. Ensure you wake them up at the pre-arranged time, provide a healthy snack with breaks after a couple of hours.
When they have studied hard all day, give them enough time to relax in the evening. If, as a parent, you are stressed, you can fake being calm. If you are stressed, you can pass the same to your child, affecting their performance. As a parent, you can have a social support group comprised of fellow parents. It will allow you to be more comfortable and relaxed when dealing with your child.
Finally, before the child goes for the exam, be reassuring and positive. Ensure they understand that failing does not mean the end of the world. Let them know they can always re-take the exam. Once the exam is over, talk it through with your child. You can discuss the parts they felt they did well and what they did wrong. Once this is done, advise them to move on, rest, and focus on the next examination as things cannot be changed.