How to Help Students Cope with Exam Stress
How to Help Students Cope with Exam Stress
Tests and exams can be quite stressful for many students, as it is indeed a challenging part of school life for children and parents as well. The fear of disappointing their parents and teachers if they perform poorly can give rise to feelings of stress, and this fear of failure creates unnecessary pressure on students and makes their examination time stressful. Where some kind of pressure can be challenging, positive and motivating overall and may be necessary or normal, stress affects a student’s performance not only during an exam but also can lead them in wrong ways such as cheating or lying.
With the exam season drawing closer, we at Sherwood High ask parents to take measures to help students deal with stress and anxiety along with our staff. We’ll read about the ways of helping students cope with exam stress in this blog.
1. Identify the signs of stress:
The first step in helping your children cope with stress is to recognise the signs of stress, as not all children feel comfortable about talking to parents about the stress they are feeling during examination or test times. The many signs of stress include: Worrying a lot, feeling tense, having headaches or stomach aches, not able to sleep well, being irritable, losing interest in food or eating more than usual, not actively enjoying activities they enjoyed previously, fatigue, isolation, anxiety, mood swings and so on. So if you come across these symptoms in your children, look into the matter immediately. Help them understand that exams are not as big a deal as they are stressing about it. And stressing about any given situation would only make it worse, so teach them to take exams as a part of their learning process.
2. Communication is the key:
When children have someone to talk to about their feelings, their worries, and their work, can help them. As a parent, you can support them and can help them share their worries, which will in turn help them keep things in perspective. Encourage your children to talk to you, their tutor or even their friends about what they are feeling; if they are stressful about exams and tests. You can encourage them to talk to a member of the school staff who they feel is supportive, and despite all of this if you feel your child is not coping, you might help by talking to their teachers as well, and try to involve your child as much as possible.
3. Help your children get enough sleep:
Children with their packed schedules during examination are often busy and are notorious for missing sleep. Operating in a sleep-deprived state puts them at a distinct disadvantage, where they are less productive and might find it even more difficult to learn than usual. Make sure your child gets a good eight hours of sleep daily to improve concentration and for better learning and results. Studying late at night or cramming all night before exams is a terrible idea, so allow your children an hour of break to wind down between studying, and going to sleep to help them get a good night’s sleep.
4. Make sure your children eat well:
It is vital for your children’s health to have a balanced diet to help them feel well during exam periods. High-fat, high-sugar foods can sometimes make your children hyperactive, irritable or moody. So encourage your children to choose healthy snacks and involve your children in deciding about what to eat. Make it a point to feed them food rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals to boost their immunity, to keep them fit during the exam season. Remember that a balanced diet is an absolute necessity to beat exam stress. Fresh food, fruits, vegetables, pulses, dairy products must be given to them regularly.
5. Help them practice visualisation technique:
Help them use guided imagery as a technique to reduce stress, as it is effective and easy. Visualisation can help calm children down, detach from what is stressing them, and turn their bodies’ stress response off. Encourage them to use visualisation techniques to prepare for presentations, and tests by vividly seeing themselves perform just as they would like to. This is a very positive and encouraging exercise for children to follow during examination to beat stress.
6. Encourage your children to exercise and meditate:
One of the best ways to blow off stress is to get regular exercise. Exercise is very important for a healthy functioning of the mind and body, it can not only boost energy levels but also help clear the mind and relieve stress. 30 minutes of exercise every day in the morning can keep anxiety, stress, and fatigue away and give children ample energy to study and perform well throughout their exams. Let them choose their choice of exercise, it does not matter if it is walking, cycling, swimming, physical games or dancing, as they are all effective strategies to relieve stress.
When children are experiencing a stress response, they are often not thinking as clearly as they could be. Meditation is a quick way for children to calm down. By practicing breathing exercises and meditation, children can relieve stress in minutes, literally anywhere. These come especially in handy for reducing anxiety and stress before or even during tests and examination.
7. Encourage children to take breaks:
It has been proven that taking breaks between studies is very helpful for children. It not only helps improve concentration but also helps in retention power and memory. Never force your children to sit with books all day long before tests or exams. This is a poor practice and can make your children fear or dislike studying and examinations even more. Encourage them to take a 15 minute break every 2 hours to relax and unwind.
8. Encourage positive thinking and affirmations:
The habit of positive thinking can help bring better health, better concentration, and ultimately better grades. Help your children be positive about given situations, and to create positive outlook and affirmations. This can help your children develop a habit of taking studies and examinations positively as well.
9. Emphasise that failure is a part of learning:
Children are very fearful of failing to meet our expectations. It is important to teach children that it is okay to fail at times, and it is not the end of the world. Every failure is a new lesson, and children should learn to accept failure and try to do better in the future without letting past failure impact them.
10. Help your children:
Give them the comfort of a specific study place without disturbances. Ask them often how you can support them with their exams. Help them with practical ideas to revise, such as having a revision schedule, or getting them previous exam question papers for practice, asking them what they have revised et cetera. Be flexible and available for your children around exam time.
Along with all the above said points, remember that it is essential for parents to interact and take time with their children regularly. Make sure you spend quality time with your children every day. Do not force your children to meet unrealistically high expectations, and be positive and reassuring, and encourage them to do better every day. Listen to your children, support them, and avoid criticism. Before they go in for an exam, or test, be positive, reassuring and encouraging. After every exam, encourage children to talk about it with you, discuss the parts that went well, rather than focusing on the difficulties that they faced. Do not take too much time discussing the previous paper, and focus on the next test rather than dwelling on what they cannot change.