How Parents Can Help Their Child With Competitive Exam Preparation
Every year, lakhs and thousands of students sit for competitive exams such as JEE, NEET etc. Preparing for these can be a really stressful process for students and more often than not, it takes a huge toll on their mental and physical health if they are not careful. For a majority of the students, the thought of having to sit for an exam and compete for those coveted seats against thousands of other students from all over the country can be extremely overwhelming.
As students fall into an unhealthy lifestyle with late-night studying relying on caffeine to a high extent and not getting proper meals into their system, it can be difficult for parents to witness their child go through the stress. Exam fever can set off panic or anxiety attacks in extreme cases. Parents have a really hard time along with the student during the preparation phase. There are a number of steps that parents can take in order to prevent this state of anxiety and panic.
Set a goal
Setting a definite career goal is extremely important for your child. Without a definite goal, a child will be clueless about what he/she wants to pursue. This can be a hindrance as he might waste time studying for different exams and not concentrating on just one career that he actually wants to pursue. Eventually, this will affect his performance in his entrance exam. Parents should help the child realise his interests and then, set a goal based on where their talent and interests lie. However, they should, under no circumstances, force their own unfulfilled dreams and aspirations on to their child.
Devise a time table
Efficient time management skills are indispensable during the preparation phase. Devise a realistic and effective time table so that sufficient time is allocated to the various activities for your child throughout the day. Divide the work-load into simpler tasks and sections and allocate the required time. Make sure that your child actually sticks to the routine. Like they say, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” ensure that there are enough breaks and slots for recreational activities too. Stressing about studies all day long is not going to be of much help.
Practising and revising regularly is just as important as sticking to a regular schedule. Encourage your children to practice papers from previous years, sample papers and take mock tests. It is beneficial to take the mock tests at the same time of the day when they will be writing the exam. It will help in getting them accustomed to sit and crack the problems. Being able to solve the paper within the time limit will improve their timing and accuracy as well as boost their confidence.
Mental pressure is the last thing your child needs during this time. You need to be there for them when they need your support the most instead of rebuking them for not being good enough or not studying enough. They are already stressed as it is because of the number of chapters and concepts they have to cover. They do not need another additional factor of stress on top of it all. Assure them everything is going to be okay, enforce a positive atmosphere in the household and avoid all kinds of negativity or arguments when the exam is nearing. Encourage and motivate them with your words and compassion.
Say ‘No’ to comparison
Being compared to someone is not the best feeling ever. If your child is not doing too well, he might already be comparing himself to his peers and be disheartened for not being as intelligent or successful as them. It will only add fuel to the flame if the parent starts to outright compare the child with his classmates or friends. What parents should do in lieu of that is remind their children of what they are good at and that they have been doing a good job so far. This would motivate them to do even better in their studies and calm them a bit.
Keep alternatives in mind
In the worst-case scenario, having a few other options besides the one your child was aiming for, would be good. Sometimes, the preparation leading up to the exam can make the student feel like the exam is ‘all or nothing’. They might revolve their entire life around the exam and in case, they fail to perform well in that exam, it might crush them mentally. Parents should be responsible and assure their children that there is more to life than just one competitive exam and that it is not all over.
Incorporate a healthy lifestyle
Healthy food habits and proper sleep schedules fall through when students are stressed out of their mind while preparing for exams that hold so much meaning to them. They stay up late at night cramming and overdosing on caffeine. This is extremely unhealthy and it will just result in brain drain. It is the responsibility of the parent to encourage their child to get rid of these unhealthy habits and follow a proper healthy lifestyle.
Motivate through rewards
Rewards act as positive reinforcement for your children. Positive reinforcement is the process of encouraging a certain behaviour by rewarding when the desired behaviour is exhibited. Rewarding your child when they do well in mock tests and practice papers encourages them to study even harder. Smaller tasks such as revising chapters can also be rewarded. Every little reward will add to her motivation and this will prove to be really helpful in the long run.
Create exam strategies
Before the exam, parents and the child should come up with strategies that will maximise his level of performance in the exam. Come up with plans of which section to solve first and how much time to allocate for each section. Analyse your child’s mistakes when he solves the practice papers and focus on rectifying those. Help them recognise their strongest section and start with that. Know the exam pattern and devise your plans accordingly.
Last but not least, your child needs your words of encouragement. Their preparation can throw them off the edge due to the stress. You need to tell them that they can do it. Avoid negative statements and anything that could destroy their confidence and self-esteem. Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work they put into their studies. Do not rub their previous failures on their faces and make them feel worthless. Help them believe in their own abilities and in themselves. When your child hits rock bottom and feels like they cannot do it anymore, you need to be there for them at lowly times like these because if not you, then who else?