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5 Tips for Families in Exam Season

Scott Milne, Deputy Head (Academic), shares his tips for families in exam season

Public exam season presents several challenges for those teenagers sitting them, some of which extend to the wider family as well. As parents and guardians, we are sometimes unsure how to support them through this busy period where emotions can run high and normal routines disrupted. What follows is largely based on feedback garnered over the years from parents and students about what has worked for them, but it will come as no surprise that many of these nuggets of wisdom have sound academic evidence bases also.

  1. The root of, and solution to, so many of the challenges teenagers face lies in their sleeping habits. Encourage them to remain in a familiar sleep routine on all days (not just weekdays) and, as far as possible, keep work areas and sleep areas distinct from one another. More tips courtesy of St George's University Hospital here

  2. Establish a regular study base in the house, away from all distractions. Some students also find it helpful to work in the local library or at their school. However, local cafés are seldom conducive to long periods of effective study. Further reading here courtesy of UCAS

  3. Maintain a healthy balance of activities. Whilst preparing for the exams may be the top priority, young people still need plenty of exercise, social interaction, and downtime. Encourage your teenager to include these in their timetable and to display that plan in a prominent place in the house. This will help remove any conflict around whether or not they ought to be working at a particular time.

  4. Keep in touch with school. This is especially important if your teenager experiences any sort of disruption during the exam period such as illness, injury, or bereavement. Not only will the school be able to provide additional support, they may also be able to apply to the exam board for special consideration to compensate for the impact that this may have on their studies.

  5. Keep morale high. A ready supply of snacks, favourite dinners after big exams, and the odd special treat will help greatly, but a listening ear, sympathy, and encouragement can prove even more valuable, even if your teenager doesn't show their appreciation at the time. More advice in this vein from Dr Jane Gilmour here.

The demands that the exam season places on the entire household are considerable. It can be a very intense period followed by a sometimes-anxious wait for results. However, no student can or should be defined by their exam results. Their talents, hard work, and value as an individual are far greater than any set of numbers or letters could ever express.

Good luck!

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