Please give us your best getting-children-thr ough-exams tips

(51 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-May-10 11:03:09

Hello.

We'd like your tips and suggestions, please, for getting your children (and yourself) through exams without dissolving into little puddles of disagreement and stress.

Anything that you've found helpful in the run-up to exams, from coping with nerves to locking them in their bedroom getting them to stick to their revision timetable.

And we're not just thinking GCSEs and A-levels. Please do also post tips that'll help others negotiate their progeny through SATs, 11-plus, secondary-school (or even primary-school) entrance tests.

<coming over all quivery just thinking about it!>

Thank you, MNHQ

BigBadMummy Fri 14-May-10 11:11:22

<marks thread as DD1 starts GCSEs next week>

I think that putting a mental wall that repels all the abuse that is going to spout out of her mouth would be a good start.

I know I am going to hear "for God's sake" / "this is stupid" / "I can't do this" / "I hate you / it / them" / "I don't need GCSEs anyway, I will just forget college and get pregnant" over and over again in the next couple of months.

Deep breathing now and soothing tones.

And trying to make sure she eats properly, gets an early night, and doesnt spend ALL her time revising.

I do think they need some time off too.

Good luck to everybody, tis not going to be easy!!

Cammelia Fri 14-May-10 11:27:36

Its really important to realise that your dc may not learn or revise how you did. If they want to revise whilst listening to quiet music let them. Young brains seem able to process stuff without total silence.

Lots of snacks, its amazing how much energy the brain uses up. Lots of sleep, the brain consolidates all the knowledge whilst asleep.

Most of all, no parental pressure - its counterproductive !

pippop1 Fri 14-May-10 11:31:07

Give promise of a present/holiday/iPod/day out whatever at end of exams - not when results are announced but when exams are over - this is for trying their best. The most important thing whether "success" is achieved or not.

Be around to test them if required and to postpone or bring forward meals to fit in with revision.

Short walks break up the day (ask them to post a letter for you) or accompany them on a walk around the block and don't talk about exams.

(So speaks the Mum of two boys - Youngest is 18 with a three school year gap so have had six summers of public exams in a row. Nice.

some exercise to stimulate their physical body is needed. It also helps with stress hormones.

Snacks, no pressure from parents, just encouragement to do their best and be supportive.

Also, make sure that the children know how to study, that is important.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 14-May-10 12:19:44

Agree with Pippop1, some reward for the effort rather than the results - ie at the end of the exams. (and a boozy night out for the long suffering parents is in order too!!

Kkeeping calm around them and tolerating their short tempers is a must I think while they are doing their exams. Also we let ours completely take over the dining room table to revise (their place of choice despite nice bedroooms which they said were too isolated!!!!)

My sympathies to anyone who has a GCSE and an A leveller at the same time!! Thankfully all school exams behind me, but the angst does not completely go away - my eldest is doing his finals as we speak 100 miles away and I keep wondering how the poor little thing (aged 21) is doing!!

pinkbraces Fri 14-May-10 12:54:01

lots of cuddles, that still seems to help my 16 yr old dd, and agreeing with everything she says

Regular food and exercise will help them focus - they can get too fixated on "revising" while actually not taking in any information due to tiredness.

Finishing the revision a half hour before bedtime and doing something else to relax will help make it easier to get off to sleep.

Make sure you know when and where each exam is, and what they need to have with them (and what is forbidden, eg mobile phones).

If you have a DC who is likely to get stressed, try to keep calm yourself about the whole business, and point out that while it's convenient to get a good set of qualifications first time round, the world will not stop turning if they don't, and their life will not be ruined. (It's more convincing if you start taking this tack before exam time, so they don't think you're just trying to make them feel better when it's all getting stressful)

OTOH if your child lacks self-motivation, stress the "more convenient to get them first time round" part of the above!

pagwatch Fri 14-May-10 13:25:21

grin at Pinkbraces

ditto for DS1 grin who is approaching ASs

agree with TheHills about excercise and no pressure

I enforce a books away time at night to try and prevent the over tired thing.
We help him draft a revision schedule about 6 weeks in advance.
Dh has evenings where he sits with him and will test him if DS1 wants ( DH has to do it - Latin is all greek to mesmile)

Eating properly and drinking water.
Letting him be grumpy and panicky

Also we have talked to him about getting course work/ support sheets etc done in advance and not left until last minute. We have nagged about this on the basis of 'what would you do if you brike your hand the week before and couln't do work that should have been finished weeks ago".....

...... so yesterday I was at A&E until 10.00pm with DS1 and suspected broken finger in his right hand shock and [weeping].

Dislocated [phew]

cory Fri 14-May-10 14:50:31

I got dd through SATS by telling her truthfully that these were not big important exams; that they were to test the school, not her; that they would have no influence on her future chances of getting a job she wanted or studying anything she wanted; and that if the headteacher told her otherwise, then the headteacher was telling porkies. Dd, who had heard the head telling porkies before, but has a reasonably high opinion of my truthfulness, was much relieved.

pippop1 Fri 14-May-10 14:53:59

Poor Pagwatch's DS1, I hope it isn't broken and that he is left-handed. If not do tell the school a.s.a.p. as they may need to get a scribe for him.

My DS1 had glandular fever during his A levels. At first I thought he was just stressed (major guilt). Had to stand outside the Doc with him waiting for it to open so that they could see him so he could get a certificate (with temp of 104) and not take some of the papers. The first GF blood test came back negative (apparently it doesn't show up until your body produces the antibodies to fight it). Miracle of miracles he got 3 x A for his A levels - he had been taking 4 A levels though - and got to the Uni he wanted.

DS2 is about to take his A levels now and I am totally paranoid that he will catch something (and i have a cold).

BigTillyMint Fri 14-May-10 15:02:40

BBM grin

DD has just done SAT's and I would say the same wink

cat64 Fri 14-May-10 15:21:34

Message withdrawn

seimum Fri 14-May-10 17:34:30

MY DD2 (yr 12) has decided that 1hr on, 1hr off revising works for her.

She does seem to be getting through a lot of food (and cups of tea)though.

fruitshootsandheaves Fri 14-May-10 18:24:42

Don't try to help them revise physics......

And don't say 'oh dear never mind' when they come home and say they have a D, check first which subject it is since sometimes it means 'distinction' and 'oh dear ' may not be the most appropriate answer!

for a group of around 40 children and teens. (ok, actually my dance school) just before exam season, I do a big session on relaxation, de-stressing, teach them all kinds of techniques like guided imagery, and I've also taught my own children how to do their own basic face massage and a very simple hand massage which they can do on themselves and each other. It really really works, believe me!

DavidHameron Fri 14-May-10 19:11:14

I posted last week about my son who has been having panic attacks about his SATS. Was so bad I went to the GP for advice...

...in the end we were helped enormously by a book for kids (I think it is one of a series of mental health things for kids) called What to do when you worry too much. Not specifically about exams but it worked BRILLIANTLY and instantly...

Used CBT techniques but adapted for children up to about aged 12.

Basic idea was Worry Time (15 mins a day to worry and no more, but you do it regularly), a Worry Box (in your head to put worries in rest of time), visualising a Worry Bully (which you learn to talk back to and 'flick' off your shoulder etc) and then either exercise or relaxation to help with symptoms. Finally 'changing the channel' to find your happy place etc (distraction, remembering a happy memory).

Was excellent and I can strongly recommend the book (am not connected in any way - it was American: actually though MNHQ, would be great to get someone like that author on for a webchat?)

DavidHameron Fri 14-May-10 19:12:50

I guess you could adapt those things for an older but panicky kid too?

webwiz Fri 14-May-10 20:02:24

Accept that some days there will be too much work to do and they are paralysed with stress whereas the next day its ok to go and meet friends because they are completely on top of their work and they need a break hmm

I relax the helping round the house rules at exam time and put up with Maths books completely covering the kitchen table. Also I'm available for testing and chatting about bits that are difficult to understand for Chemistry and History (can't help with Maths and Further Maths).

Last year was GCSEs and A levels in our house and it was horrible. This year its just DD2 doing AS levels but she's been ill with some awful flu thing and so is going into revision a bit behind where she where she's like to be. We've had tears three times this week so far so she is managing to make it as bad as last year all on her own.

PixieOnaLeaf Fri 14-May-10 21:02:26

Message withdrawn

I too, Cat, don't have the problem of a child wearing himself out revising hmm. I have tried both carrot and stick; no joy. So now I'm telling myself 'You can lead a horse to water...' sad

But his twin sister just got 94 points out of 95 for a piece of coursework grin

cat64 Fri 14-May-10 22:31:18

Message withdrawn

Granny23 Fri 14-May-10 22:48:03

This may sound trivial, but I found it really worked. The night before the exam assemble your best (or new) shirt/blouse, new pants and socks etc. Also best or new pen, pencil, ruler - whatever will be needed. On the day of the exam you will feel smart, organised and competent. Lolling about in old clothes is great for revising not so for exams.

I sat my highers as an extra mural student at my old school wearing my suit, make-up and highest heels. Felt great and got good passes. Technic also worked for driving test.

maryz Fri 14-May-10 23:05:18

I posted this on another thread:

The most practical thing I have found is to know in advance which exam is when and make sure that you have everything they need (pens, maths instruments, calculator, colouring pencils, etc.) specifically for each exam ready the night before. And don't assume they will bring it home afterwards - ds1 lost his calculator between Maths 1 and Maths 2, so we were lucky we had a spare.

Lots of food and try to limit their intake of caffeine - they all think it will keep them awake.

I have learned over the years that there are far more important things in life that educational achievement - happiness is what they should be aiming for. So try to convince them that their best is good enough - trying to do more than they can do is not physically possible.

Carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 15-May-10 10:34:46

I haven't thankfully had to do this for my own dcs yet, but did do it a while back for a family friend whose mum had died and needed a bit of help sad. The most important thing for her was getting a revision schedule in place - assessing what had to be done and the time left and working out what could be done - realistically. Building in breaks and treats, and mixing the subjects up so they have a mix of stuff they like /like less on same eve/day. The enormous pleasure of ticking stuff off is not to be underestimated.

Maybe this is something everyone else does automatically, but noone at school had told her to do it and it gave us both a structure which we found helpful - I knew when I needed to be around more and could stay one page ahead on the GSCE teach yourself maths book!

Wishing everyone going through this the very best of luck - may the force be with you

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