Perhaps the most sublime, yet imposing type of stress is in the form of exams. To handle exam stress effectively we need to get to the root of the problem.
One of the most important factors contributing to exam stress is the expectation of parents and teachers from children to achieve exceptionally high scores. For most parents, exam score becomes a symbol of honour and respect while for the rest, it becomes a deciding factor of evaluation of a child’s intellect.
For schools, high score is a parameter of a teacher’s effectiveness. Therefore, most teachers demand their students to do extremely well in exams. These expectations become so burdening that it creates unnecessary stress among students.
Lastly, the University cut-offs also pose a huge threat to a child’s career. High scores guarantee admission in the best of colleges which in turn guarantees a bright future. Therefore, the race to score 100% in every subject becomes so insane that many a times it has forced youngsters to harm themselves out of fear and hopelessness.
Here are few strategies to deal with exam stress effectively:
- Creating a balanced time table:
Help your child in creating a time table which has a well balanced mix of study and rest time. Moreover, the study time should be strategically created so that it helps maximize learning. Ideally, three hours of study should be followed by one hour of complete relaxation which is then followed by revision.
- Use of effective tools while studying:
Encourage your child to use graphic organizers and mind maps. These tools will help to understand and memorise concepts quickly. It is also advisable to write and practice while studying. One can also use Mnemonics to learn complex topics in the shortest amount of time. It can be a rhyme, a song, image, acronym or a phrase to remember facts in a systematic order.
- Relaxation & Exercise:
Excessive stress gives way to high levels of anxiety which finally leads to burnout. To avoid such psycho-physical state of exhaustion, ensure that there is sufficient time for children to relax. Breathing and relaxation techniques can really help to ease the unnecessary pressure from both mind and body.
- Balanced Diet:
Get rid of coke and chips and replace them with healthy and fresh food. Junk food takes time to digest and in times of stress and anxiety the process of digestion in our body slows down. It is also essential to have lots of fluid to keep yourself hydrated and fresh.
What can we do as parents/teachers?
We as parents and teachers have a huge role to play. When at home, make the atmosphere as accepting and caring as possible. Take out time to sit with your child and genuinely ask how he/she is doing? If they are facing any issues or challenges. Rather than scolding, motivate and inspire them. Few words of love and motivation have the power to bring the best out of your child. Finally, stop comparing with other children. Remember, every child is unique and each has their own way of confronting situations.
As teachers, take out time to figure out what kind of support each child requires. Work in tandem with the school counsellor to create a positive and nurturing environment. During exam time, most schools ban any sort of physical activity for students and that is a very ineffective strategy. Some sort of physical activity is required and it provides energy at a physical level to fight stress.
As educators, let’s not make examination something to fear. Let us make it a process of self-evaluation because learning is a never ending process of self actualization.