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How to Help Your Student Minimize Exam Stress

How to Help Your Student Minimize Exam Stress

While you can’t take the exams for them (yes, we know you’ve thought about it) you can help ease their exam anxieties in other ways.

Elizabeth Hoyt

March 04, 2014

It can be difficult for a parent to stand by and watch their student go through the rigors of exams, whether in high school or college. Exams are tough on students – many of whom don’t take care of their bodies with late (or all-night) night cram sessions, unhealthy eating habits, over-doses of caffeine, not to mention extremely high levels of anxiety and stress.

You begin to wonder: What’s my role here? As a parent, where should I step in?

While you can’t take the exams for them (yes, we know you’ve thought about it) you can help ease their exam anxieties in other ways.

The following suggestions detail ways that parents can help minimize exam stress for students of all ages:

Help Avoid Procrastination

Touch base with your student regarding his or her assignments and exams, asking whether or not he or she feels prepared and has studied.

You certainly do not need to become a micro-manager but you can encourage preparedness and readiness as much as possible.

If you’re bringing it up, he or she will become more aware of the timeline and get down to brass tacks.

Encourage Healthy Study and Lifestyle Habits

Try to encourage your student to make healthier lifestyle and, in turn, study, habits. If they’re not at home, you could send a care package with healthy alternatives (see suggestions below) to help motivate your student in making healthier decisions.

Better habits will lead to your student feeling better, staying more focusing in class and while studying and, ultimately, improved grades.

Think about the following lifestyle aspects and helping your student find healthier alternatives, whether it’s via a discussion or by sending a care package to show your support:

Food:

Find a healthy snack you think your student may enjoy while studying.

Think snacks that last and travel well in totes and backpacks like trail mix, nuts, whole wheat pretzels and sunflower seeds.

Sleep:

Talk to your student about how important it is to get the right amount of sleep. Consider sending a sound machine or, even easier, email them this link to a free web site called Sounds To Sleep To. They’ll know you’re thinking of them and it won’t even cost you a dime!

Relaxation:

Inquire whether your student is taking any time off from studying to relax and have fun. It’s not healthy to study all day, every day because he or she is likely get burnt out eventually. If you’re concerned that no time is being set aside to relax, suggest he or she do so. If you feel this won’t work, you could try a couple of other options:

1. If you’re close enough to visit your student or live with your student, surprise them with an afternoon at the movies or somewhere else they enjoy. Note: make sure you let them know you’ll be taking them a couple days in advance so they don’t freak out the day of the trip.

Also, make sure it’s on a weekend, so they won’t be missing class and ensure that it’s not the day before a big exam or project. The goal is to treat them to something they enjoy – there’s no need to make it a big, expensive trip, just something out of the ordinary to help them relax.

2. If you’re not close by, contact your student’s closest friend and offer to pay for the two of them to go to the movies or somewhere else they’d enjoy for the afternoon. Again, it does not need to be somewhere expensive or elaborate, just a change of pace.

Another fun idea may be to check sites/apps like Groupon and LivingSocial for any activities within your student’s local area that you think he or she may enjoy and email your student the voucher, which he or she can use when ready. Just make she they have enough time to redeem it!

Music:

Encourage your student to develop musical tastes that enhance their study skills – at least while they’re studying. You can get creative and make a playlist for free and share it with them via music apps, like Spotify or send them an iTunes gift card, specifying the album you’d like them to download.

You can learn the best types of music to listen to while studying, along with song suggestions, here.

Exercise:

Encourage your student to develop regular exercise habits. In addition to being healthy in general, it will help to get out any built up stress and anxieties he or she may be harboring.

While you could send a yoga or exercise DVD, there are plenty of free websites dedicated to fitness and exercise as well. Why not send an email or e-card letting your student know you’re thinking of them, you know they’re stressed and you have a solution, along with a link?

One such site, FitnessBlender, provides hundreds of free full-length workouts for any fitness level and features workout routines that are 30 minutes or less, which is perfect for students on the go.

Offer Support – Before and After the Exam

Remind your student of your love and support – no matter the outcome of their exams. Let them know that you’re aware of their hard work and efforts and that you’re extremely proud of them regardless of the grade they receive on their exams.

Take time to remind them that their entire future does not depend on one particular exam and you know that they worked to achieve the best possible grade and it’s not the end of the world if their score isn’t what they hoped for.

Your support will likely go further than you think in terms of eases their stresses, as a lot of students put a lot of pressure on themselves to please their parents, whether the parents know it or not.


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