Perhaps the most sublime and yet most imposing type of stress is in form of exams. To handle exam stress effectively we need to get to the root of the problem, thus an unbiased understanding is required to confront this dreaded stressor.
One of the most important factors contributing to exam stress is the expectation of the parents and the teachers from children to achieve exceptionally high scores. For most parents, exam score becomes a symbol of honour and respect while for the rest, it becomes a deciding factor of evaluation of a child’s intelligence and skills. In case of board students, the scenario is a tad bit different as exam score becomes a deciding factor of a child’s future.
For schools, high score is a parameter of a teacher’s effectiveness. Therefore, most teachers demand their students to do extremely well in exams. These expectations become so pressing in nature that it creates unnecessary stress among students.
Lastly, the University cut-offs (which are always extremely high) also pose a huge threat to a child’s career. High scores guarantee admission in the best of colleges which in turn guarantees a bright future. Not getting through good colleges is a signal of a doomed future. Therefore, the race to score 100% in every subject becomes so insane that many a times it has forced young people to end their lives out of fear and hopelessness.
Here are few strategies to help our child deal with exam stress effectively:
The foremost import factor is to help your child in creating a time table which has a well balanced mix of study time and rest time. Moreover, the study time in the time table should be strategically created so that it helps the child to maximize his/her learning process rather than minimizing it. Ideally, three hours of study should follow by one hour of complete relaxation which is then followed by revision.
While studying, encourage your child to use graphic organizers and mind maps. These tools will not only help your child to learn concepts quickly but will also help them to recall their learning easily. It is also advisable to write and practice while studying. One can also use Mnemonics to learn complex things in the shortest amount of time. It can be a rhyme, a song, image, acronym or a phrase to remember facts in a systematic order.
Excessive stress gives way to high levels of anxiety which finally leads to burnout. Especially, during exam time with wee hours of study and high levels of anxiety, children may experience burnout. To avoid such psycho-physical state of exhaustion, we as parents and teachers must see that there is sufficient time for them to relax. Breathing relaxation techniques can really help to ease the unnecessary pressure from both mind and body. We should also encourage them to engage in some form of physical activity in form of exercise or yoga. Just cycling or walking 15 minutes a day is enough to recharge your child’s energy and focus.
Get rid of coke and chips and replace them with healthy and fresh food. Junk food takes time to digest and in times of stress and anxiety the process of digestion in our body slows down. Therefore, avoid eating junk during exam time. It is also essential to have lots of fluid to keep yourself hydrated and fresh.
What can we do as parents/teachers?
We as parents and teachers have a huge role to play. When at home, make the atmosphere as accepting and caring as possible. Take out time to sit with your child and genuinely ask how he/she is doing? If they are facing any issues or challenges. Rather than scolding, motivate and inspire them. Few words of love and motivation have the power to bring the best out of your child. Finally, stop comparing with other children. Remember, every child is unique and each has their own way of confronting situations.
As teachers, take out time to figure out what kind of support each child requires. Work in tandem with the school counsellor to create a positive and nurturing environment. During exam time, most schools ban any sort of physical activity for exam students and that is a very ineffective strategy. Some sort of physical activity is required and it provides energy at a physical level to fight stress. Any physical activity enhances blood circulation which helps in creating anti-bodies. These anti-bodies are required to fight certain diseases when our bodies become vulnerable to illness. During stress, our bodies are most vulnerable.
As educators, let’s not make examination something fearful. We must understand that life doesn’t end with exam. Let us make it a process of self-evaluation because as learners we need to realize that learning is a never ending process of self actualization.