Supporting Your Child During Exam Time

Supporting Your Child During Exam Time

If you're worried about how your child is coping with exams at school, here is our advice and information on where you can get help.

How can I help my child?

Exams are a stressful time for any young person. Mood swings and outbursts are more likely to occur during this period. Look out for other signs that your child may be struggling, including poor sleep patterns or a change in appetite or behaviour. It’s worth preparing ways of supporting your child during exam weeks and thinking about how you will react and respond on the day if they don’t get the result that they, or you, are hoping for. 

These are things that can really make a difference: 

  1. Work with your child to find what revision style works for them.
  2. Encourage your child to take revision breaks and find a balance between studying and doing things they find enjoyable and relaxing.
  3. Make sure they are eating and drinking at regular intervals.
  4. Encourage them to take some time after revising to wind down. 
  5. Reassure them – reinforce that you are and will be proud of them no matter what happens.
  6. Remain positive and hopeful!
  7. Plan a treat or an activity together to mark the end of the exams.
  8. Set aside one to one time so that they can talk to you about any worries.
  9. Let them know their feelings are valid and normal, but also offer support and solutions where possible.
  10. Anxiety is often worst at night and this means it is useful to encourage good bedtime routine
  11. Work with them to develop relaxation techniques.
  12. If anxiety and stress start impacting their day-to-day life seek help from your GP.

How can the school help? 

  • Speak to your child's teacher(s) to find out what revision techniques they recommend.
  • If your child is struggling with a specific subject, talk to the relevant teacher and explore whether they can provide additional help.
  • Find out if the school has learning mentors that can help with practical steps including revision timetables. 
  • If your child has additional learning or developmental needs, speak to the school SENCO and establish what specialist provision they can put in place.

Emma and Jo from our Parents Helpline discuss how you can help your child cope with the stress of exams.

How to manage a 'disappointing' results day

If your child, or you, are unhappy with their exam results it can be tough to deal with. Here are some things that can help:

  1. If your child is happy to show you their results statement, you might find it helpful to have a look, just in case they have misread or misunderstood, or overlooked something.
  2. Accept their feelings, whatever they are – disappointment, anger, embarrassment, bravado. Their feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Don’t offer immediate judgement, or solutions, or even reassurance – there will be plenty of time for conversations later.
  3. Reflect back how they are feeling to show you have understood, for example, “I can see you’re disappointed with the Maths result.”
  4. Let them know you love them through highs and lows. Big hugs are good (although probably very embarrassing in public).
  5. Show you’re on their side - it could be something small like getting their favourite snack. 
  6. Give yourself some breathing space and time to reflect. 
  7. Ask the school to help your child explore any possible next steps, such as including re-takes, re-marking, alternative courses.
  8. If your child is disappointed with their results, they might also be embarrassed.  Agree with your child how they want their results discussed with family and friends, if at all.

Where can I get help?

Exam Results Helpline

  • Specialist careers advice for helping young people and their families decide on options following GCSE, A Level and Nationals exam results days
  • Helpline: 0808 100 8000

The Mix

  • Provides a confidential helpline, email, webchat and telephone counselling service for young people under 25. Advice and information on support services for young people including counselling.
  • Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (daily 13:00-23:00)

BBC Bitesize: The Mind Set

Student Minds

  • Supporting students to look after their mental health.
  • Peer support programmes
  • Email: [email protected]

MindEd

  • MindEd for families is a website where you can hear about other parents’ experiences and find clear, helpful guidance on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing
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