The internet is awash with revision advice for stressed students at this time of year, but what about parents? How can we best manage the carrot and stick balance, whilst maintaining our own sanity?
- Recognise this is genuinely a very stressful time for students – particularly for those who are working really hard, but often equally for those who know they should be, but aren’t!
- Know your son or daughter’s exam timetable. Put a copy up at home, make sure the dates are in your diary and identify the times when they are likely to need the most revision support from you. Cheadle Hulme School students’ exam timetables can be accessed by parents from Parent Portal.
- Stock up on food. Foraging teenagers at home all day can wreak havoc with your normal family eating patterns, but being prepared is half the battle. Ask them to help with the shopping list. Fill your cupboards, fridge and fruit bowl with the things they crave when needing a boost. Make meal times a welcome break from revision by serving their favourite food. Whilst we might like to insist on ‘brain food’ such as oily fish and broccoli, in reality, making sure they eat well might come down to sacrificing healthy options for comfort food just for the next few weeks.
- Help them to get a decent night’s sleep. Clean bedding, new pillows, tidy bedrooms all help to make going to bed at a reasonable time more appealing. Whilst late night cramming can seem like a good short term solution, the longer term effects of sleep deprivation can be damaging to overall performance. Discourage caffeine overload by having alternative drinks in the house; try introducing Ovaltine, Horlicks or herbal teas to younger palates.
- Don’t compare your children with other people’s children. Competitive moaning about how frustrated you are that your child is not doing their revision, or, worse still, boastful one-upmanship about the dedication of your brilliant offspring helps no one…least of all your own child. Resist at all costs.
- Accept that listening to music can aid concentration. You may need silence, but your children probably don’t. Actually, encouraging them to get up and dance to a favourite track can be a great way to reinvigorate them. Get them to make a revision playlist of their favourite tracks so they don’t waste time selecting single tracks, but have a ready prepared playlist that can run for a couple of hours. Investing in decent headphones may be the way to avoid too much suffering on your part if you don’t share their taste in music.
- Try not to nag. They do all know the importance of revision and exams; they don’t need you to keep pointing out how much they still have to do. It doesn’t help and often ends up elevating stress levels for everyone in the family.
- Try very hard to encourage your sons and daughters to leave their phones in another room whilst revising. Most teenagers find it impossible to avoid checking their phone every few minutes, and this is probably the single greatest distraction from revision they have to deal with; help them to manage this – sit down and discuss the benefits together.
- Get them into the fresh air whenever you can. They’ll get freaked out if you insist on lengthy family outings, but quick bursts of activity are very helpful – so a quick walk to the local shops, or even just 20 minutes in the garden can be the best options. Barbeques can be a great solution in good weather.
- Get involved. Offer to test them. This can be a great way of offering your support in a practical way. Praise them for what they get right and never criticise them for what they don’t – testing is diagnostic – and needs to feel positive to be effective.
- Go out! Leave them alone for a while. Some parents think they have to be there all the time to ‘crack the revision whip’, but parents need a break too. Your children will appreciate having the house to themselves, and feel that you are trusting them…always a good thing.
- Agree on rewards/targets/treats. Whether it’s festival tickets, post A Level adult-free holidays, family trips or just a restful summer, get involved with planning the ‘end point’ reward your son or daughter is working towards. Yes, it’s all about getting the best exam results they can, but actually, it’s the fun stuff that will be the biggest motivator. Perhaps have your own post-revision treat booked too!
- Learn to step back. Helicopter parents radiate stress; stay calm and your children (and you) will get through May and June much more easily and successfully.
Assistant Head (Admissions), Mrs Sally Petrie