Advice Column, Child, Education, Tween & Teen

Help! My child is unwilling to study for their exams

The long-anticipated year-end exams are upon us and so are the challenges and pressures that, so often, go hand-in-hand with the experience. Cindy Glass, Director and Co-founder of Step Up Education Centres explains “ It is crunch-time now and Grade 4 to 12 learners are busy working on the preparation necessary to achieve the best results possible. But, alas, not ALL learners feel motivated or willing to put in the effort that is needed at this time. Some learners may, in fact, show little or any interest in studying for their exams, leaving parents and teachers feeling worried about what can be done about it.”  

Is your child unwilling or unmotivated to study for the exams?  Cindy gives the following top tips to help you and your child through this stressful time:

  1. Remember that most negative behaviours are rooted in fear.  Have a conversation with your child to try and establish what they may be afraid of.  Fear can make them feel completely overwhelmed and it may just seem easier to look the other way when it comes to exam preparation or, worse, give up altogether! Help them put their fears into perspective – help them to understand that all they CAN do is their best. 
  2. Break the seemingly overwhelming task into bite-sized manageable pieces.  Help or encourage your child to concentrate on working through past exam papers. Structure study times so that a goal is set to achieve a certain amount of work in the given time.  This will give your child a wonderful sense of achievement when each task is completed.
  3. Remind your child that, in life, there are some ‘yucky’ things that need to be done to get where you want to go. It means that, despite perhaps not enjoying the necessity of study, it needs to be done.
  4. Explain to your child that the first 10minutes of any challenging activity is the worst.  Once you get past that 10 minute mark, you seem to ‘roll’ more easily. Just get to it and see how it works!
  5. Help your child understand that exams are their responsibility.  You are there to encourage and support them, but ultimately, the responsibility of whether to honour themselves by putting in the effort that is needed, is up to them.
  6. Make sure that your home environment is conducive to effective studying.  Keep the noise levels down, speak positively, encourage and praise any progress. 
  7. Try and have something to look forward to once the exams have been completed. A movie evening, a day at the beach, or the promise of enjoying a favoured meal.   This needs to be a reward for the hard work that was put into the exam process.

Cindy concludes by saying “Exams can feel overwhelming and fear can cause some children to’ shut down’ at this time.  All children want to achieve-whether they admit it or not!  Don’t give up, the rewards will be worth it!”

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