Without going into a debate about whether exams are really necessary, or if they really prepare anyone for the pressures of the working world, let us focus here on what can be done during this time to make it easier on the family.
Despite what the exam writing child may feel, this time is stressful for everyone in the house. Anyone feel like a trip out for hot-chocolate? Forget it – exams are being studied for. Want to have some friends round for dinner? Forget it – exams are being studied for so early nights are important. In many households, much comes to a standstill to make studying easier for the child(ren) writing exams. While it is noble, it may not necessarily be the best idea. Having time away is important for reflection and general good mental health which benefits studying. (This is not to be read as “socialising is more important than studying”).
Once the basics have been covered – good diet, sleeping well, suitable study space – it is important for studiers to create their own timetable of what to study when. Some schools will provide a timetable for children but it does not take into account which subject(s) your child needs to spend more time on, or which days there are extra-mural or family activities which shorten the available studying time. Dotting this timetable around the house lets others know when studying is taking place and that this Saturday is a very full day so it is best to decline the invitation out without having a big family discussion (which would make the non-studiers feel less important, and the studiers feel that exams are ruining their life).
Breaks are vital to studying and should be taken every twenty to fourty minutes depending on concentration span. Sitting for two hours straight is not as productive as it looks. A break should be time enough to get something to eat (if necessary), drink something (preferably) and go to the toilet (to avoid this being used as a procrastination tool). Jumping jacks outside, or a run around the house will get the circulation going and improve mood – and it is definitely easier to study when not in gloom-mode. (This is not to be read as a half hour gym exercise that requires a half hour recovery time).
When the exams are over, it may be time to seriously look at what is covered in a week and set aside some time to do regular revision notes so there is less preparation to do before the studying starts for the next exams.