We all know that exam time can be stressful for children. Whether they’re about to take their SATs, GCSEs, 11+, or A Levels, the pressure they face can leave them feeling burnt out. As a result, there have been numerous articles on the pressures our children face during their school life, claiming that exam stress could be causing them to lose sleep and miss out on vital experiences which can cause health issues – both mental and physical.
Of course, however, these are extreme scenarios. But there’s no denying that stress levels are heightened around exam season. So what exactly is it like to be your child during exam time?
To echo our intro, ‘stressful’ is probably the word that springs to mind first, but ‘tired’, ‘confused’, and ‘under pressure’ are also accurate adjectives to describe their feelings.
If you think back to your time at school during exams, and you probably remember feeling like you were propping a lot up on your young shoulders. But now of course, with the added pressures and expectations from both schools and families, this has arguably, never been higher.
This added expectancy from peers and family can make them spend hours revising, writing memos, attending seminars designed to cover vital topics which may be covered, and undertaking independent revision sessions with their friends. They can often feel like their lives are nothing but exams for a few months.
Of course, as a parent, it’s up to you to help them understand the need for balance and prevent them from getting burnout, but essentially there’s not a lot you can do when it comes to relieving the pressure.
It’s important to talk to them regularly to underline the importance of taking breaks, having fun and living their lives, and of course reiterate that all they can do is their best and you are proud no matter what, can help them to see the light at the end of the tunnel and perhaps alleviate some of the pressures they face.
However with exams becoming harder, and of course the aforementioned new GCSE grades, students are often left feeling like there’s just too much to learn.
The new English Literature GCSE exams for example require students to memorise two books, a play, and 15 poems. Maths, which is an often-feared subject is no different; the new GCSE maths course now covers tougher subjects – and even formerly A Level material.
And although challenging children is important to get the best out of them, there is a general consensus that it has gone too far for a large portion of them and they are at risk of becoming disengaged. Uninspired to learn because they find it too difficult, or indeed stressed constantly at such a young age, teachers have commented that pupils have often mentally switched off. And of course, this has a detrimental knock-on effect on the education system.
So what can be done?
Talk to them
Talking to your children can obviously help them to understand that exams are not the single most important thing in life – that health and happiness are imperative. Relieving some of the mounting pressure and ensuring they know you are proud whatever happens will often provide them with a bit of breathing space.
Invest in revision tools
Thanks to technology there’s a whole host of revision tools to help children around exam time from tools that go through each topic and check their knowledge to practice papers like those from School Exams. Designed to give those revising the opportunity to understand what they’ll face when they walk into the exam room, while also ensuring they know how to answer questions, practice papers have proven to be one of the best ways to learn.
The SchoolExams practice papers have been created by experts and are much more than just a revision tool; helping to plug gaps, they provide a measurable mode of success to help them see themselves improve.