Tips for supporting teens through major exams
By Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., psychoanalyst and author of “Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior”
Teens go through stressful times with spot quizzes, weekly tests and major exams. The major exams are the most difficult because they cover the largest amount of work that has been learned. Parents and teachers can help support teens during these times in many ways:
- Help them organise a good study ambiance in your home where they study and do homework every day. This routine organisation creates a sense of security for completing school work well.
- Talk with your teen about what time or times of days to do their homework and study for tests. This discussion shows them that you value their opinions and they become open to your ideas, too.
- Explore with your teens the notion of taking breaks when studying for a big exam. Ask them how long they can realistically concentrate before their mind drifts to other things. Then set up routine times for breaks with snacks that help them return to their work refreshed and able to concentrate.
- Look over the amount of learning material to be covered on the impending exam. Divide it up into topics and manageable study ‘chunks’ that alleviate the strain of seeing there is so much to cover.
- Create a long term schedule of when the studying chunks will be done.
- Suggest reviewing previous chunks before going on to the next section of work.
- Discuss with teens whether they like parental help or not or maybe sometimes. Be available as needed and be flexible about unexpected changes in schedules. This way the teen knows you are on their side and aren’t judging them.
- Consider that some teens like to study in groups. If they want your help with that, set up a place in your home or library where they can work together, following the same suggestions above.
- Always recommend planning ahead as a general rule, so there is no panic the last few days or the last day before the test.
- Most important is that your teen knows you understand the stress they are under and are happy to talk with them about the pressures they feel. This way they feel much less alone and therefore much less stressed!
In general, a value to lend to your child is that the reward isn’t a stellar grade, but learning how to study itself. Learning a work ethic that includes persistence and good organisation is the gain which lasts much longer than the test at the moment. A further lasting plus is strengthening the parent-teen relationships!
About the Author
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with specialised clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy. She has been on the faculties of New York University and the Society for Psychoanalytic Study and Research, among others. She has written extensively on parenting for various publications, including the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The International Journal of Infant Observation, The Inner World of the Mother, Newsday’s Parents & Children Magazine, Long Island Parent. She also wrote her popular column, PARENTAL INTELLIGENCE, at Moms Magazine and has been a parenting expert for numerous publications such as Good Housekeeping. She currently writes for Active Family Magazine (San Francisco) and blogs for Huffington Post. Her new book is “Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior”. To learn more go to Dr. Hollman’s website at lauriehollmanphd.com