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Supporting My Child Through His Exams: Case Study

By: Kate Simpson BA, MA - Updated: 23 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Exam Period Gcses Exam Stress

The exam period can be stressful for parents as well as children. We spoke to India French to discover how she kept calm and supported her son, Michael, during the GCSE exam period.

Q. Were you worried about your son’s exams?

A. Michael is my first child and I didn’t finish my studies at school, so the revision and exam process was new for me as well as him. He’d done SATs before obviously, but GCSEs seemed far more daunting. I was slightly nervous because I wanted to be able to support him as best I could during that intensive time.

Q. How did you prepare yourself and help Michael to stay organised?

A. Michael has great organisational skills, so any preparation I did was perhaps more for my benefit than his! The main thing I did was to ensure that I was as clued up as possible, I knew his exam timetable and attached a copy to the fridge door. I got acquainted with exam regulations too. I talked to him about his revision schedule and made sure to cut back on his chores in the run up to exams.

Q. How did you create a comfortable environment in which Michael could revise and relax?

A. We live in a rather small flat, but I was adamant that Michael should have the quiet and space he needs to do his work. We cleared the desk in the living room for him, so that he had a tidy, clear place to work. It’s just Michael and I in the flat, so I would head to my room in the evenings so that he could concentrate on his work. We bought a good chair to support his back as he worked and a lamp too. I also cleared two living room shelves so that he had somewhere to keep all his books, revision guides and folders in order.

Q. What did you do on exam days?

A. When it came to the actual exam period, I tried to help Michael stay fit and healthy. I’d make sure the cupboards were well stocked, so that he could have a substantial, nutritional breakfast and make himself decent packed lunches. I cooked dinner a little earlier in the evenings, too, so that he could eat earlier, get a spot of revision done and head to bed at a reasonable time. I also drove him to football practice so he didn’t need to make the long walk there and back. I think it was really important for him to exercise regularly at that time. It certainly helped to relieve his stress and anxiety.

Q. What was the most important thing you did?

A. I’d say, most importantly, I kept a good balance between being involved and helping out and taking a backseat so that he could get on with things. They were his exams after all! I just tried to make things slightly easier for him, as well as letting him know that I was there in case he wanted any extra support. I was sure to stress that I loved him and that I was proud of him for putting so much effort into his exams.

India took care to ensure her son had a comfortable environment in which to work, helped to reduce Michel’s stress and kept an eye on his health during the revision and exam periods. Whilst India and Michael’s story is an individual one, plenty of parents can learn from the useful and supportive steps that India took.

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