Exams are, by all accounts, the most stressful thing that modern children routinely experience. It all comes down to a pen, a piece of paper with a bunch of questions, and their brain. Or, that’s what kids think, at least.
The main problem for young people taking exams is that they don’t have the life experiences to put their examinations into context. While a child is at school, the whole purpose of their existence seems to be built around the notion that they need to do well in their exams to succeed in life. Exams and success/failure are inextricably linked, with very little room for manoeuvre. If a child does poorly in an exam, it’s not just an annoyance, but a reflection on them, their failings, and the fact that they won’t be able to get the things out of life that they want to. Exams are a big deal.
The question for parents, therefore, is what they can do to ensure that their child remains mentally healthy in the upcoming exam season. Let’s take a look.
Avoid Piling On The Pressure
There’s no moral rule that says that people’s lives have to be a success. And creating such a condition is abusive. Not everybody can be successful in every possible way, including having a dream career. Somebody is always going to have to clean the toilets.
If your child does poorly, and you know that they tried, then that’s okay. It can be tempting for parents to say that you’re sure that they will be successful in the future, but this tends to pile on the pressure. Completing high school is important, but nothing in life is final.
Choose A High School That Values Extra-Curricular Activities
Schools that focus solely on exams can communicate to children that exam results are all that matter in life: they’re not. The most valuable people are often those with the best people skills: those who have a rare talent to lead, direct and empathise.
Schools like Leicester High don’t just focus on academic achievement: they also offer other activities, like Duke of Edinburgh, which allows students respite from exam prep and a chance to explore the world and develop new skills.
Listen To Their Concerns
It can be tempting for parents to lay their narrative on top of whatever the child says. A child might have done poorly in their exams, and it can be tempting for parents to blame them for not doing more homework throughout the year. But there are all kinds of reasons they might not have achieved the results they wanted. The child could be going through an emotionally difficult time with bullying, or the exam might have been poorly written. Your child might not be academically-inclined but have skills in other areas. Listening to them and their concerns on results day help them to communicate their needs and be reminded that you’ll be there for them no matter what. Having that level of psychological safety can help enormously.
Are you looking forward to results day?