Supporting your teens through exam time

Supporting your teens through exam time

Mock exams, GCSEs and A-levels are tough for any teenager. Here are 5 parenting tips for helping children to stay upbeat and do their best


After school attendance, one of the biggest influences on a child’s success at school is having parents who are interested in their progress. That doesn’t mean you have to put pressure on your teenager, you just need to be a caring and understanding source of support.
Here are five good ways to make summer term exam time as painless as possible.

1. Start with sleep

• Get your teen into the habit of going to bed without distractions. Screens (TV, tablet or mobile) can hamper our ability to go to sleep, so don’t be afraid to ban these if your child has difficulty nodding off.
• Create a good bedtime routine. Make sure your teen has a break between studying and sleep – perhaps half an hour on the sofa for a hot drink and a favourite sitcom.

2. Make home happy

• Even if you usually blast the radio when you’re cooking, try to keep in it down. The same goes for the TV and where possible, noisy younger brothers and sisters!
• Organise the household routine so it’s easy for your teen to get into the bathroom for a relaxing shower or bath at the end of a long day of revision. Why not treat them to a luxurious or reviving new shower gel?
• Try to avoid disruptive plans like having visitors to stay until exam time is over, though the odd day trip out can be a brilliant way to give minds a well-deserved break.

3. Be their personal organizer

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• Get your child into the habit of being ordered – preparing bags and equipment before they go to bed, writing an exam timetable and making a revision planner, noting what subjects they need to study each evening.
• If your child doesn’t have a study space, try to create one just for these few important weeks – even if that means the dining table is out of use. Children need a tidy place to work which they can walk away from when they’ve finished.
• Make a note for yourself of exam times so you can discreetly be ready to offer support. Don’t put this on the fridge door, though, or your child will be reminded of it every time they get a juice!

4. Make revision time quality time

• Structure their revision time: 20-minute activities like note taking, writing down questions to break a subject down, drawing mind-maps etc. Encourage your child to keep these sessions active and not just about reading.
• Incentivise revision. For example, three lots of 20 minutes – then a break to do something nice. It’s worth encouraging them to get out and do some physical exercise, too – perhaps a bike ride, a kickabout in the park with mates, or a swim.
• As well as using school text books, online revision tools like the excellent BBC Bitesize website help make revision interactive, with activities designed for all levels of tests from Key Stage 1 upwards.

5. Keep them well fuelled

• Make sure your teenager isn’t skipping meals. A good breakfast before morning exams and a light lunch before an afternoon exam is essential. Try to avoid stodgy foods during the day – meals high in carbohydrate take a lot of energy to digest and can leave them tired and less alert.
• Stock up – fill the fruit bowl with tempting and nutritious snacks, make their favourite suppers on exam weeks, and have breakfast options you know they love so they’ll make time to sit and eat before the inevitable dash out of the door!
• Offer snacks during revision time – sandwiches cut into easy to grab bites, carrot sticks, a few biscuits, and that all important water, milk or juice to keep them hydrated and more able to concentrate.

If your kids aren’t at this stage yet and it all feels a bit daunting, don’t worry – schools do prepare children and their parents for the exam process. However, it’s worth reading our article by teacher and mother of two, Louise Farnell, on How to prepare for the exam years ahead.

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Great information Thank you

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very helpful tips thank you

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Sound advice

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