The annual assessments in schools have begun and so has the onset of anxious times for students. Exam time is something kids definitely don’t enjoy. Butterflies in the stomach and nail biting accompany all-nighters. 'Will I be able to answer all the questions?' 'Have I done enough revision?' – are some worrying thoughts that cloud students' mind. Children tend to get irritated, have trouble in catching good night’s sleep, lose interest in eating, worry a lot, and appear depressed. Headaches and stomach aches are also the symptoms of being in stress.
Scientifically speaking, a certain amount of this stress has good effects on the child’s performance in exams. But too much anxiety can have drastic, opposite effects. It can leave the child blank, right in the middle of the paper, creating a negative frame of mind and eventually leading to poor exam performance.
As parents/teachers, it is our responsibility to come to the child’s rescue: to reduce their exam anxiety, make sure they stay healthy and perform their best. Following are a few basic measures that must be followed by every concerned parent/ teacher.
A balanced diet for the brain
A balanced diet is vital for the child's health. This is true for all times, but the need for a balanced diet is more important, especially during the exam season. Make sure that the child eats well and is away from junk food. It is known that food with high-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine, and drinks such as cola, sweets, chocolate, burgers and chips make the child hyperactive, irritable and moody.
What the child eats has a huge impact on his/her energy levels and concentration power. The brain needs healthy diet to do its job properly. Fuel the child’s brain and body with nutritious food items like fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt, fruit and vegetables, to increase his/her retention power. This way, the child retains what he/she has studied for a longer time and instances of blank outs can be easily avoided.
The same applies on the exam day. Make sure that the child does not skip breakfast, as eating breakfast is as important as his/her last minute revision.
Water - the lifeline
Being well hydrated is essential for the brain and body, to work at its best. Make sure the child drinks plenty of water throughout the day, preceding the exams and also on the day of the exam. Don’t forget to send the child his/her own bottle of water on the D-day.
A good night’s sleep - the wonder medicine
With high stress levels and humongous syllabus to study for the exam, it can be quite difficult for the child to squeeze out time to sleep. And if the child decides to study all night, stop him/her right there. Cramming all night before an exam is risky and can have counterproductive effects (like not retaining anything he/she studied the night before). Instead, ask the child to stick to the study schedule and get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is vital for a person’s well-being, as important as the water we drink or the food we eat. A nonnegotiable necessity for the brain, sleep helps in processing all of the information that the child has learned that day. Lack of sleep can bring down the child’s performance and therefore, does more harm than good. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function their best. A good night’s sleep improves thinking and concentration power. Sleep is more beneficial for the child than a few hours of panicky last-minute study.
Staying fit and fine during exams
Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. Walking or cycling in the neighborhood, swimming, playing their favorite outdoor sport, dancing to a favorite song, reading a novel or making a cup of tea, are all effective mini-activity breaks. The whole point of exercising is to strike the right balance between studies and physical fitness, even during exams.
Warming up the body and brain to write the exam is also crucial. For that, encourage the child to engage in some moderate physical activity or try any relaxation technique.
Ask for help from school
If the child is still not able to cope up, it won’t be a bad idea to ask for help from his/her teachers in school.
Following all the listed ideas will definitely help your child beat the exam stress! All the best!