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Help your child keep exam stress at bay

Julie Richards, principal of Chesterfield College.
Julie Richards, principal of Chesterfield College.

Mental Health Awareness Week is just around the corner and the start of exam season is upon us, so it seems like an opportune time to talk about stress and the impact it can have on the wellbeing and performance of young people.

Stress has a significant impact on the body and can affect concentration, focus and memory. These effects can make a difference in an exam situation, so learning how to keep stress at bay can give students a huge advantage.

Our aim at college is to help every student achieve to their highest potential. Tutors and progress coaches support students to prepare for the exam season both academically and mentally, but the role families play in supporting students at home is vital.

The whole family can help students to prepare positively, keeping stress levels to a minimum and giving them the tools to be the best they can be in an exam situation.

Give them space and create time to talk. Let your child have a say on how, where and when they revise. A few well-placed questions about how they are feeling and how their studies are going, as well as words of encouragement, help to show they have your support and give them chance to share any worries they may have.

Promote healthy living. Sleep, a good diet and exercise are just as important as revision. Getting the right mix of all three of these important aspects during their studies will give them an advantage in the exam room.

Help them to get creative with revision. Look at different ways to help them revise effectively, methods that differ from the endless study of text books. Offer to quiz them on the facts they need to remember. Help to make creative revision notes with illustrations and colour, and let them leave post it notes with key facts in different rooms of the house.

Take the carrot approach. Offer small rewards for the effort they put in and not just the results they get after the exams. Their favourite meal or a trip the cinema after a hard day of revision will help them to relax and know you’re supporting them.

Working alongside professional teaching and support staff at the college has enabled me to benefit from an insight into exam preparation and the techniques that work; I hope they help your child get through exam season and support them to do their very best.