By Angela .E. Rudderham
Exam time is almost always stressful. Teens have often received the message that the results of their exams will directly impact their futures. The teen brain is not yet efficient in understanding the consequences of their actions or looking at how the decisions they make today will affect them tomorrow. This is why they may seem shocked, panicked and over whelmed when they realize exam time really did come and their decision to “put it off until tomorrow” finally caught up with them. If you add into the mix any learning differences, lack of coping skills, lack of emotional control or anxiety you can have a real crisis on your hands. Here are some tips to help you and your teen get through exam time.
- Should of /could of lectures are not helpful now. It might seem like a great time to rub your teen’s nose in the fact that you were right all along when you were nagging them to study all year, but this will only serve to frustrate them and cause them to feel isolated in their despair. They need support now regardless of the fact their own actions led to this moment. Now after the exams a gentle reminder of how a little preparation would have saved them from panic couldn’t hurt.
- Listen, but say very little. When your teen is venting or crying and pouring their heart out with their, “I can’t do it, I’m too stupid, there’s too much work, the teacher sucked”, as hard as it is not to correct their negative statements, let it go. A healthy pity party may be the thing needed to expel some of the tension. If you have to say something make it something like, “Tell me about it sweetheart.”
- Stock the house with brain food and healthy snacks. Lots of Omega 3 fatty acid, found in nuts, salmon and help improve brain function and memory. Vitamin B that repairs damage done by stress. Discourage junk food high in sugar and caffeine which can add to the jitters and later cause energy to crash.
- Plan a relaxing escape or activity for your teen. Treat your teen to a massage, round of golf, yoga or any activity to help clear their minds and reduce stress. A stressed mind will not function at its maximum ability.
- Help your teen manage their time. Create a study time schedule together. Help them break down lager tasks into smaller tasks.
- Always start with organization first. Have them gather together all the material they’ve received during the term. Handouts, notes, old assignments, and old tests then have them organize their notes by date (there may be some guessing here) make note of any missing dates/pages. Your teen can ask a friend or teacher for these later.
- Identify main ideas. Encourage them to highlight or underline any key words, formulas, themes, and concepts.
- Help your teen study by letting them teach you. Have them read their notes to you. Have them explain concepts and pretend to be the teacher. You can ask easy questions to help build their confidence.
- Suggest your teen compile questions from old tests and create a super test. They can take this test and study the areas they had the most difficulty with. They should take this test again and again until they have no errors.
- Discover what kind of learner your teen is. Get your teen to take a quick online test to determine their learning style which will help them identify how to maximize their study time. One such online test can be found at www.educationplanner.org
- Tips for visual learners. Make lists, watch videos, use flashcards, use highlighters, underlining and use mind maps to summarize large tracts of information
- Tips for auditory learners. Read textbooks aloud, repeat facts with eyes closed, ask questions, and describe aloud what is to be remembered, use word association to remember facts and lines.
- Tips for Tactile-Kinesthetic learners. Create a model, demonstrate a principle, practice a technique, participate in simulations, engage in hands-on activities, and study in comfortable position, not necessarily sitting in a chair.