How to help your child prepare for ATAR exams
With ATAR exams just around the corner, it is natural for families of Year 12 students to be feeling stressed or anxious. Learning how to manage stress is an important life skill and essential for building resilience.
As your child approaches this important milestone in their education, there are a number of things you can do to support them through exam preparation. The key is assisting your child to maintain a healthy lifestyle, keeping perspective in check and promoting a positive mindset.
Ultimately exam preparation is the responsibility of the student. However, there are a number of ways parents can support their teens through this challenging period.
Here are five tips on how to help your child prepare for ATAR exams:
1. Support healthy sleep habits
Good sleeping habits are vital for wellbeing and can have a significant bearing on academic success. Sleeping well can improve concentration levels throughout the day and prepare the mind for study. You can encourage your teen to avoid oversleeping and promote a good night’s rest. For teenagers, between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night is recommended.
2. Encourage exercise
The mental health benefits of exercise are well known. Physical activity can help clear the mind, lift energy levels, and relieve stress. Exercise can stimulate the release of endorphins that improve mood and prepare your body for memory retention, a helpful boost during study periods. Ensuring your child maintains a healthy exercise routine (at least one hour a day) throughout study periods will be beneficial. Non-sporting enthusiasts can be encouraged to take an hour-long walk while listening to music or their favourite podcast.
A balanced diet is essential for health and wellbeing. Help your child to avoid high-sugar, high-fat and overly caffeinated food and drinks, as these can have a negative impact on mood. Stock the fridge and pantry with ready-made or pre-prepared healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables and nuts to help avoid the temptation and the convenience of sugary alternatives. Hard boiled eggs and natural yoghurt are good sources of protein that will help you feel fuller for longer.
4. Promoting perspective and positivity
The key to staying calm during exams is to keep fears in perspective. It is unhealthy to invest too much self-worth in exams. Exam results don’t have any bearing on who you are as a person. There are always alternative pathways to your chosen field, it might just take a little longer to get there. As the saying goes, “Life is about the journey, not the destination.” Ensure that your child understands that they are loved and supported, no matter the outcome. It is helpful to consider that the ATAR is essentially an entry point to university, no result will ever be as valuable as the journey a student travelled to reach that point.
Ensuring your child maintains a positive mindset is equally important. According to neuroscientists, negativity produces stress chemicals in the brain, which can lead to poor mental health. Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Prof. Mark Robert Waldman, authors of the book Words Can Change Your Brain, show how negativity and stress are related. You can help your child to learn to recognise their strengths, develop satisfaction and a sense of optimism.
5. Monitor for signs of distress
If stress becomes distress and is left to fester it can lead to problems. If your child is getting upset or having trouble, it’s okay to step away and return to the study desk when they are ready to start again. Signs that your child could be distressed include panic, agitation, fatigue, nausea, and lack of sleep and apetite. As a parent, you can listen with open ears to ensure your child feels heard and supported. Ask open-ended questions to facilitate a conversation and provide affirmation and encouragement to reinforce your belief in their ability.
Your involvement as parents in supporting, guiding and advising is critical during this educational milestone, but the end is near. Maintain a positive and optimistic dialogue with your teen, promote a healthy lifestyle and be there to listen to and encourage your child.
Living Waters Lutheran College recently introduced the Elevate Program where students in Years 10 to 12 undertake high impact study-skills workshops and ongoing sessions throughout the year aimed to improve study skills and performance. Study skills are also incorporated into our Pastoral program, encouraging our students to discover their God-given potential. Click on the link above to access further information and support.