It is the month of March. The dreaded exam season! A time when parents and children find themselves in the clutches of the exam monster that sucks away all the fun in life! Parents, remembering their own school days and their own great scores or failures, leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring that their little ones are “exam ready” and that they will manage to get a decent enough score to keep the parents’ reputation in line. For children, there is no option but to listen to parents; as more often than not, their Xbox and theme-park trips will be approved by parents only when they are satisfied with the report card.
Are you also a parent who is part of this exam circus? Well, if you have a smile on your face reading this or are familiar with the scenario mentioned above, then you are. But you don’t have to be! Be a smart parent, instead. You can let your little one run wild or even watch TV during exams. You can let them play, read story books, even nap or just do plain nothing, even during exams; and still ensure that your little one does well in exams. Yes, you too could have this magical atmosphere in your home during exams, if you wish to.
Here are a few tips on how to be the smart parent during the exam season:
One of the most important and most difficult things for parents is to stay calm. We always find ourselves in a state of stress and tension; and without realising we end up passing it to our children. Maybe a colleague’s child scored the first rank, maybe a cousin’s daughter got more marks than yours, maybe a friend called asking doubts from a chapter in Maths that you didn’t even know existed; we all end up taking the pressure. And then we end up passing it on to our little ones who are really happy in their own world without all these worries. We should take a minute and learn from them. Does it matter to them if a friend scores more than them? Not really. Not unless we put it to them in a way that makes them competitive. If a cousin gets first rank, is your little one as sad as you are? No. And that is the truth. Children inherently take no tension and are mostly calm. And we should let them be, by being calm ourselves. Because believe me, there is really nothing that we can achieve by being stressed and pressurized about exams. So first of all, take a deep breath, calm down.
Smart tip: You could use games or riddles or puzzles to solve/play with your young ones at regular intervals during your studies to help calm down and keep the intellectual juices flowing at the same time.
Prioritize and plan in advance
We all receive exam schedules. And the moment we get them, we tack them on the soft board for all the family to see and start badgering our little ones about following a timetable so as to be able to complete all their work in sync with the schedule. Well, smart parents don’t do that. They sit with their young ones and find out the topics/subjects that they find difficult. Then they work out how much time they are able to spend every day with their young ones on these topics/subjects. This gives them a clear idea about how they need to rearrange their schedule so as to accommodate their young ones; and working out this schedule ahead of time gives the young ones a sense of control, making them more willing participants in the entire plan of action.
Smart tip: Invite your young ones’ inputs when making the schedule to make this a shared happy experience than a forced study time.
Teach what the teacher teaches
Remember when we learnt concepts of Maths and Science? Well, now is not the time to use that knowledge in the way we know. A smart parent always ensures that they are on the same page as the teacher. It is important to remember that we know the concepts and we know how to solve the sums. But when our little ones come to us with last minute doubts just before their exams, is not the time to refresh our memory. The best way to handle this situation is to go through their books and then help them solve it the way they have been taught in class. You see, they will get marks if they do a sum the way they have been taught to do it; not merely by arriving at the right answer (using your method). So let them do that.
Smart Tip: If your little one is up to it, teach them your methods too for fun, so they can use them to cross check their answers.
Make smart use of social media
You have WhatsApp and Facebook apps on your phone? Great, now is the time to use them smartly! Instead of merely getting yourself updated with any last minute revisions done by the teacher, make sure to get more interactive with fellow parents. Maybe you could take a chapter each, prepare mock question papers and share them? Or share some tips the teacher has shared in class with other moms. If you have figured out a simple way to solve a complicated problem, share the knowledge. There is no point being selfish here, your young one will still get his good marks; but by sharing knowledge, you may end up helping someone who is in real trouble. Or at the very least, your child can hold his head high in the knowledge that it was his mom’s idea that helped all his friends!
Smart Tip: Your little one is your best friend. Remember that. So believe your young one and not what some parent on social media says. If your child says the teacher has said something specific, stick to it; don’t rile your child about some parent on WhatsApp saying that is not so. The belief you show in your little one now will go a long way in cementing their trust in you for life.
Shake a leg, take a break
What is the ideal time slot for one period in school? 35 minutes. There is a reason for that. And the reason is very simple. Children usually have a very small attention span. (This pertains only to studies. Your child may choose to sit for two hours to watch a movie or read a book he likes and that would be a different matter altogether.) So, when you sit to study with or make a timetable for your little ones to follow; ensure that you factor in enough breaks and free time in it. It helps to refresh the young minds and helps them concentrate better.
Smart tip: Regular breathers work wonders, trust me. Plus, your young ones would be happy coming back to studies as they know they will be getting a break in the next half hour again!
By now I am sure you are already coming up with more ideas to be the smart parent yourself. Believe me, children love cool, stress free parents who do not shout at them and pressurize them to study. And we can be those parents if we realise that although good scores are important in life, every child is unique and has unique capabilities. Every child also has unique temperaments (they take after their parents, no?); and that is why every child will tackle exams in his own unique way.
Final Smart tip: Every smart parent knows that their job is only to guide and support their young ones and then sit back and let them tackle the exams.
So good luck, and have fun this exam season!
Rashmi is a devoted mum and an avid reader. When she is not engrossed in a book or attending to the whims of her spirited offspring, she indulges in creative writing and blogging. She was a lawyer once, much before she surrendered to motherhood and took up writing. Today, she is a regular contributor to lifestyle, parenting and e-learning websites; and has created FindMyRead – a vibrant community of book lovers! To read more from Rashmi, visit her blogs Ramblings et al and Find My Read.