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How parents can help with exam stress?

By Pickbrain

Dear Parent,

So it is that time of the year when you are tense. The exams are just around the corner and your kids do not seem as concerned as you about their exams. How do you handle it as a parent? As a quizmaster and a knowledge services company we get invited by numerous schools to address their wards on how to cope with the stress of exams and teach them memory tricks.

While the routine, get them to eat well, rest well, be active are things you know as a parent, here are a few tricks that may help your kids and you (more importantly) to stay calm and stay focussed.

Acceptable Performance: The most important aspect of exam related stress is the gap between parent expectation from their children vis-a-vis their potential to perform. Defining acceptable performance is important. Results do not change overnight, so the good way to target progress is a 20% increase on the average of the previous three performances of your child. Over expectation makes your child switch off. Ask yourself how would you react if your boss at work asked you to increase your output and performance by 40% or more. It’s the same with your child.

Trick 1: Defined, incremental, achievable goals create motivation.

Your calmness helps!: Yes you read it right. Moderated anxiety can be motivating and drive children to do well. However, when anxiety crosses a certain level, it is very stressful and can lead to ‘giving up’ without trying. As a parent you need to appreciate that kids go through a fair bit themselves and not add to that anxiety. Your being calm (but involved) helps reassure your child that you are ‘with them’ in this and not just ‘pushing them’. There is a lot of research to support this.

Trick 2: Your being calm helps your child do better.

Memory test: This is a proven parental intervention that works. Children tend to think recalling what they have read a few hours after they done so means they know it well and can recall the same during the exam. Memory in humans is no different from computers. There are temp files that get deleted from the mind over time. It is similar to how we forget the names of people after some time. Converting them to long term memory is important. The trick is to keep make the child understand this and build a habit of recalling what has been read after 1 day, 2 days, 4 days and one week.

Trick 3: Recall tests are critical to be sure recall matches reading.

Different types of recall: This is another area that parents can help. Create different forms of the same learning material. If there is a formula, writing it on a sticky note and putting it up around the house helps. If there is some text that can be recorded on the phone and re-heard, that helps too. The mind searches for information much like a computer, in different file formats. If there is a sticky note for example on the mirror in the wash room, in the exam hall the first recall when that question appears is the ‘note and the location’. The mind feels familiar and then reads what was on the note helping the child recall better. It’s the same with audios, videos, powerpoint presentations, drawings, charts etc.

Trick 4: Instant recall of something familiar calms the mind and leads to better recall.

Entertainment helps!: Most parents tend to place an embargo all non-academic areas like TV, entertainment, sport etc. viewing during the exam season. De-stress helps, so allow your child to prioritise and watch what they want to see most.

Trick 5: A calm mind receives and stores information better and longer.

Increase curd in the diet: This is something my doctor told me. Curd triggers the production of memory cells and increasing alertness. It not only increases memory cells, it sure helps keep the child calm and cool.

If none of the above help, try the Floyd number… All in all its just another brick in the wall.

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