Studies show that 50% of parents suffer from chest pains, headaches, insomnia and anxiety while their kids are writing exams. OK, that’s not true but if those studies were carried out, I’d be one of those 50%. Each year I coax myself into not stressing about exams; failure is part of success they say; it’s their lives right, they can deal with the consequences of not studying. And anyway, how does my stressing about exams help anyone? If anything, I think I make matters worse by trying to set mock exams for each child, which means I need to learn all the study material for grade 5 and 7 which means I end up having nightmares about mitochondria, electrons, BODMAS and Abraham Maslow.
So I’ve come up with a few ideas of things parents can do to ease the anxiety of exams, I mean, for themselves. Because if we’re honest, the kids have a great way of handling the stress of writing exams.
- Make sure you stock your pantry with plenty of snacks. Especially for the teenager, he will need to be eating non-stop for the entire duration of the exams. (Wait, I’ve noticed him with something in his mouth all year actually)
- Make sure those snacks are suitable for all moods. Sweet, salty, healthy, cold, hot, protein rich and midnight snacky. That’s for me, when the atoms are floating around my room and I suddenly feel hungry.
- Find a comfortable area with plenty of light, a good chair for posture, all necessary stationery and a nice airy atmosphere conducive to effective studying. Now watch your kids lie on their beds upside down, feet on the wall, surrounded by Dorito crumbs with earphones on, ‘studying’.
- Make a study timetable, you know, by working out how much time is needed for each subject then dividing that by the numerator of how many days you have to study, then tip and times that by the amount of grey hairs that have suddenly surfaced and there you have it. A study timetable that you can use to start your next braai fire.
- Remember to keep hydrated and no Sarah, I’m not talking about yourself and wine doesn’t qualify! Plenty of water is allegedly good for keeping brains working especially for math. Be prepared for many unnecessary, time-wasting toilet breaks too.
- Try to teach your child how to master comprehensions. Use newspaper and magazine articles to find questions they can answer, and then watch them read the entire newspaper and tell you about how Cresta Mall will be opening an aquarium soon. Guess I got him to read at least.
- Perhaps think about booking yourself a spa treatment in advance. Spas should offer affordable exam packages for parents which include de-stressing and detoxing treatments. Because after all those midnight snacks…
Come to think of it, even though my kids have each other, they always need to have friends over so why shouldn’t it be the same with writing exams. Maybe a study centre is a good idea, call it The Concentration Camp. Parents can send their kids to the centre where they will study hard, they’ll be cared for by qualified childminders that have a Degree in Patience, have breaks with friends, group discussions and xBox every 4 hours. Speaking of which, perhaps schools could include an exam on useless YouTube videos and Fortnite just to bring kids’ averages up and to, you know, stay relevant.
And on a serious note, there is none. The only way I can stay relatively sane during the exams is to see the lighter side of it. There’s no way I’m about to stop stressing and as my kids get older, it gets worse.
This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2018.
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