Morning lovely Wednesday Peeps!
I spoke the other day about SATs Prep and Instilling Confidence in Children. I can’t stress how important those are, but perhaps a more urgent issue is learning to read the signs that they are stressed.
What to look out for:
- Insular, withdrawn and anti-social (more than normal for a teenager)
- Lack of communication
- Snappy or emotional about unrelated things
- changes in appetite and/or social habits
Basically, anything you’d see in a stressed adult. So what can we do about it?
So many schools and parents, with the best will in the world, are causing children stress. I’ve heard of children being told they can’t go out on weekends or in the evenings because they have to study…every day. Would you cope with that? Working 7 days a week and dealing with homework, chores and any clubs they belong to? I don’t know many adults that could do that, so why are we making our children do it??
What these super-strict parents and teachers don’t realise is that the child is likely to end up going the opposite way! The child who is so stressed about exams may well meltdown under the pressure and not perform as well as they could have: It’s kind of like when people are too strict about teenagers having choices of school or boyfriend or how they spend their time….at some point they will rebel against it and take control any way they can, sometimes by getting into things they know will be disapproved of by the authority figure and that’s a dangerous path to go down.
As a loving parent or caring teacher, of course you want them to do their best. However, their best doesn’t come from working 24/7. Yes, they need to study and make wise choices about the use of their time, but they also need to rest too.
I suggest 5 days per week of revision for 1 hour. When the holidays arrive, make sure they get a few days off and then no more than 2 hours a day when they are studying (with a break in between hours). Think how you’d feel if you had no holiday.
Plan some rest time; play a game, go for a walk or let them have a bit of their own time. The key is balance. Set some ground rules about how much time off they can have and how much studying they need to get done, then trust them to do it. At some point soon the GCSE and A-level pupils will be out in the big wide world making decisions on their own. Teach them balance and stress management now and let them go do it, otherwise, they’ll learn stress is acceptable and excess is OK…nobody wants that.
So good luck to those facing exams soon, parents and teachers included, and remember to rest as well as study.
As a side note, if you have a child who is obstinate and refuses to revise at all; talk to them calmly about consequences and how it affects their life-plans. If that doesn’t work, sometimes they have to learn the hard way. I don’t recommend telling a lazy student this, but there are always opportunities to re-sit. A friend of mine spent most of his first year of 6th form failing his A-level modules because he was re-sitting his GCSE Maths and English and didn’t have the time for both. He realised very quickly that he should have done more at GCSE and that he’d have to stay an extra year to catch up on the A-levels he was then getting behind in. No one wants to see someone they love fail, but if they won’t be told they may have to find out the hard way. It is better than you forcing them to revise constantly and hurting your relationship in the process. Just be there for them (calmly) while they figure it out. xx
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