Help them create their own way of working
Lisa Ost has two children – Sophie, 18, and Charlie, 15 – and is actively engaged in helping them work in their own ways, including using aids such as study planners and revision cards.
‘Sophie is incredibly conscientious, and one of the things we did to support her was create a separate space to study with a desk that she personalised with fairy lights and photos etc.,’ says Lisa. ‘She didn’t want to study in her bedroom or in the kitchen. I encouraged her to have breaks, good sleep and fresh air, as it’s impossible to work flat out.’
Tim Townsend, divorced father to twins Ethan and Harrison, said having separate homes within just 30 minutes of each other actually helped his teenagers, who are now at university.
‘Coming to my house for the weekend actually meant they had fewer distractions as their friends weren’t always on the doorstep,’ says Tim. ‘It became apparent that the two of them needed different help and spaces to study: while Ethan (by his own admission) needed more gentle persuasion, Harrison was naturally more motivated.’
Establish a balance
Children and teenagers can easily become very stressed about revising and performing well in exams, so it’s important to spot the signs. Stress symptoms in children include worrying excessively, intermittent headaches and stomach aches – but during exams there should be some pressure, says Helen.
‘A child must learn to cope; some stress is good. Avoidance of all stress is not helpful, so parents should set and manage the pace and give them coping strategies.’
You may find this applies whether your children are inclined to work too much or too little – but regardless of their ethic, one of the best ways a parent can help their children during exams is by finding a balance, says Emily Higgins, head of maths at a secondary school in Hampshire.
‘It is really important to help them get out of the house,’ says Emily. ‘Rewards are definitely a bonus, but I would suggest a favourite dinner or a trip out of the house if they have a good session revising rather than making it performance-related.
‘Suggesting a walk to clear their head or making them sit down to dinner with family can have a really positive affect on their mental state.’
If your children want to go on social media during their breaks, and they probably will, try to establish ground rules, as using social media could affect your child’s stress levels if not managed correctly.