Advice Column, Hero Life, Parenting, Tween & Teen

Motivating your teenager in preparations for examinations

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Parents are often just as stressed, as their teenagers are when it comes to preparing for and writing examinations. Books and articles on the subject are limitless and easily accessible – try Googling it. The problem is, that there is just so much to read, that by the time you are done, your child would have finished schooling.

The advice given in these articles is very much the same. They all speak about planning, goal setting, study methods, working environment, nutrition, rest and communication. You are bound to pick up handy hints from any article you read. You will soon realise that the advice in most articles is relatively obvious and is probably something that you would have figured out for yourself anyway.

Sedhoorajan Padayachee, Principal at Abbotts Colleges Northcliff believe that it would be more helpful for parents to understand how their teenage children think and what they want during this challenging phase of growing up. If this is better understood, then motivating teenagers to study becomes a far easier task. Like all subjects in the technologically advanced world we live in, literature on understanding teenage behaviour is also exhaustive. I can however, refer you to a short and very informative article on the subject by Dr Debmita Dutta (30 December 2018)
Dr Dutta reminds us that the three things teenagers want most are freedom, independence and respect. She goes on to explain that most teenagers are not motivated to study because they see studying as an unending drudgery; they believe that even if they study they will not have freedom or independence and still risk the chance of being reprimanded and not respected.

Dr Dutta further proposes that parents:

1. Motivate their children to learn rather than perform
2. Don’t bribe or punish their children to learn
3. Be patient sensitive and understanding
4. Allow and encourage lots of physical activity
5. Explain the “why” behind what teenagers are studying
6. Don’t compare their child to others
7. Encourage the company of adults other than the parents
8. Give their teenagers mental challenges
9. Do not try to control
10. Allow friendships
11. Do not criticise
12. Do not be grumpy and complain
13. Show their passion not their worry
14. Do not pressurise teenagers with praise
15. Stop panicking and looking disappointed.

All of the above recommendations are substantiated in the article, which is a must-read.

Parents are advised to always be around, if possible, when their children are studying. Leaving them alone is strongly discouraged as this could be interpreted as neglect and indifference. Just be around for moral support without creating the sense that you are policing them. Besides, by just being around, the temptation for your teenager to do something else during study time will be discouraged.
You may feel that it is premature to offer this kind of advice now, considering that it is so long before the June examination. Parents and students have become accustomed to receiving guidance on examination preparation three or four weeks before the examination. This is probably why students do not do as well as they are capable of. Examination preparation should not start a few weeks before the examination. It should start at the beginning of the year in the classroom from day one.

Students must listen to their teachers with intent all day, every day. Encourage your children to pay attention in class ensuring that nothing distracts them. More than half the battle is won in the classroom. Absence must be discouraged at all cost, unless it is unavoidable. Students believe that they will make up for lessons missed on their own – this is not the same as receiving instruction from the teacher. This is the first step to successfully preparing for the examinations. Stress and anxiety can be avoided if preparation is constant and not crammed just before an examination.
Inculcate these good habits in your teenager and you will pave the way for their success.

Written by: Sedhoorajan Padayachee, Principal at Abbotts College Northcliff

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