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How to best support your student during final exams

Monday, May 31, 2021

With the end of the school year comes exams.  This edition of the Counselor's Corner is dedicated to providing advice and information on how to best support your child while they prepare for and take final exams. 

The end of the school year can be a stressful time for a young person, so mood swings and outbursts are more likely to occur during this period. Also, be on the lookout for other signs that show that your child may be struggling, including poor sleep patterns or a change in appetite or behavior.  Here are more tips on helping children prepare for exams, and thinking ahead about how you will respond and react if the exam doesn't go as planned.

Preparation for exams

Help your child find a study system that works for them.  We often recommend the 'pomodoro method' of 25 minute study increments with 5 minute breaks to do something enjoyable and relaxing.  A BFIS student created the 'Smart Study' app for students to create a study schedule for themselves. You can check the app in the App Store. Make sure students are eating and drinking regularly and encourage them to get some exercise to work off steam and create balance in their lives.  Reassure them -- reinforce that you are and will be proud of them no matter what happens.  Remain positive and hopeful. Planning an activity together to mark the end of exams is something they can look forward to.  Give time so they can talk about any worries and let them know their feelings are valid and normal, but also offer support and solutions where possible.  Anxiety is often worse at night so a good bedtime routine is important with relaxation techniques and plenty of sleep. Of course, eating breakfast is essential before morning exams and healthy snacks in between exams as well.   

Managing a 'disappointing' outcome

Accept their feelings, whatever they are -- disappointment, anger, embarrassment, or 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. Validate how they are feeling to show you have understood, for example, 'I can see you're disappointed with the math exam result.'   Through the highs and lows, let them know you love them and big hugs are always welcome. Show your support with a favorite snack and give yourself time to breathe and time to reflect. Feel free to reach out to the school about ideas.  

Lastly, here is a helpful general article about Motivating your child to do well in school.  We wish all the students the best of luck on upcoming exams. 

You can also take a look at our article about Exam Study Tips. 

BFIS Counseling Team