As the New Year celebrations settle down and life gets used to the routines, a new season starts for the student and parent communities. Yes, – The EXAM SEASON. It extends from February to the first half of April, subject to the board-one studies.
For most kids, it’s usually a time of anxiety, apprehension, nervousness, oscillations between the phrases “Yes, I am prepared” to “Gosh, Mera Kya hoga,” burning the midnight oil to cover the syllabi, frantic phone calls, and trips to friends’ for notes, parent trips to the nearby photocopy shop, and extreme hunger moods from becoming an all-encompassing food gobbling machine to a resist all food creature.
The parents become reactive simulators vis-à-vis the mood of their kids. Yet, they endure these volcanic mood swings with a single-minded pursuit: finding means to lessen this very erratic behaviour exhibited by their child. They realize that it is not the time to question such behaviour but, to have a workaround so that the anxiety of kids trying to overpower their concerning emotions is replaced by a belief that they can do it.
Kids of all ages exhibit this exam behavior with or without their knowledge. We must become their sounding board, absorb the negative impact or its repercussions, and let them land safely in their quest towards preparedness for this exam. Easier said than done. As a parent, I try to follow a few ways:
- The Present Parent: It applies to all of us, whether we are at home, working from home, or going out for work. It is not essential to be with your child 24/7. What is essential is to be with them when they need us.
- For example, the revelation of a completely new topic in the syllabus might make the child anxious. When this happens, the child needs to communicate his or her thoughts, positive or negative, to someone. We need to be that someone. It does not change the fact that the new topic must be studied. Yet, the pent-up emotions of its realization are all dissipated once the dialogue happens. How? Well, once the child lets the parent know, many solutions to the issue also come into the picture, and the thought of “How can this be done?” changes to “Oh, this is how it can be done.”.
- Discussing one’s plan for covering the entire syllabus acts as a reinforcing mechanism for the child. It lets the child become confident in his or her schedule with the parent’s approval. Some insights or tweaks, as suggested by parents, also help the child to concretize the schedule and follow it.
- Many times, all a child wants from a parent is to be present. It’s like the presence of a silent guardian who will keep a vigil and let the child know if there is any deviation from the decided path.
- Food Supervisors: With the pressure of exams, be it boards or otherwise, comes the overdependence or reluctance of food to cope with.
- As parents, we must ensure that we provide them with the sumptuous and nutritious food they need for the added brain activity. We must try to balance the kids’ demands for 2-minute food preparations that satiate their taste buds with foods that would provide them enough energy to withstand the rigors of their schedules. So, a maggie can be enjoyed after the consumption of healthy fruits and berries.
- The mindset of having a constant intake of tea or coffee can be replaced with shakes or juices that are soothing to the eyes, tongue, and stomach.
- We must try our best to maintain their eating times for good body function. Let’s not forget that the satisfaction of having food before the brain starts sending stress signals as pangs of extreme hunger translates into a renewed vigor to start the study marathon.
- Sleep Managers: Kids tend to have erratic sleep patterns in a rush to prepare for exams. As parents, we need to ensure that they are getting proper rest amidst these preparations.
- Build a schedule as per their child’s study patterns. Some stay late at night to study, while many others are early risers. Reschedule other things to ensure a proper rest period.
- Ask the child to take power naps while continuing long hours of study. Studies have shown that it rejuvenates the brain and the body.
- Recreational Activities: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” As the exam days are near, one of the things that kids slash out from their routine is playtime. While playing for the usual times may not be feasible considering the syllabi and cognitive dissonance post-play time, some recreational activities are essential.
- Ask the kids to reduce their playtime rather than stop it completely. Suggest alternate ways to engage in activities like cycling for some time, a badminton match, or playing table tennis at the home dining table.
- Post-Corona kids still rely on gadgets for their studies, especially those in the secondary sections. Remind the kids to take “greenery breaks.” Ask them to gaze at the plants inside the house or outer spaces.
- Listening to music or playing an instrument( if they know) can also be a good recreational activity.
- Indulging in yoga or dance can also lead to meaningful breaks.
- Enjoy some light-hearted conversations with kids to give them a break from their monotonous study routines.
- Comparison – Out of the Window: This proves to be the most potent mood and morale damper. However noble the intention, comparison with anyone, must be avoided at all costs. This red line that results in the alienation of relations must never be crossed. As I have stated in many of my previous articles, nurture your child’s uniqueness rather than resorting to comparisons that hurt them.
- Inculcating excellence as a habit: Yes, we all want our kids to excel academically. Let’s not say otherwise. Yet, what we must focus on teaching or guiding them about is the right way to do it. Academic excellence is always welcome, but not at the expense of the child becoming a score-churning machine. It must become a habit rather than a good thing to have. Motivate and guide the child to study to understand the concepts rather than rote learning. It may not yield results in the immediate exam, but the inculcation of such a habit goes a long way in developing the persona.
- Words that matter: “You are doing great,” “I can see your hard work,” “Your desire to excel is evident in your efforts,” “Keep up the good work,” or a mere “shabaas” or “lage raho” is enough of an encouragement for any child. It costs nothing to say it yet the rewards are multifold.
Many of the above are simple to follow, like food and rest routines, while others are exams for the parents themselves, like refraining from any kind of comparison.
Who said being a parent is simple? What is simple, is the passion that every parent has to help in all ways possible to see the cynosure of their eyes evolve into mentally, emotionally, and physically strong individuals, who over a period of time, are ready to navigate the “EXAM SEASON” of life.