Higher Education

Higher Education

Exam season doesn’t necessarily mean high stress levels

PUBLISH DATE 20th January 2018

The beginning of the year means the inevitable barrage of model exams for Class 10 and 12 students, all intended to prepare them for the D-Day. While schools, parents and tuition teachers put pressure on the students to get the maximum marks possible, the students often find themselves at their wit's end. After long and tiring hours at school and tuitions, home offers no respite for the young minds, either. Putting constant pressure on the child can shoot up their mental stress levels; but at the same time, parents feel they can't just leave the child to do what s/he pleases. So, how far can a parent push the child, during the exam season?
Anand Kumar, parent of a Class 12 science student, says, "Unlike other streams, the syllabus of the science stream is very vast and there are chances of losing focus halfway through. I have seen a lot of parents who lament about how their child who got good marks in school finds it difficult on entering college. One should opt for science only if they are interested in it," he says, adding, "It calls for a lot of streamlining. I don't believe in pushing the child beyond a limit."

And that is where the balance comes in, he says. "Requisite guidance and support is needed for the kids, away from tuitions, and the pressure from school and home. A child's sense of motivation should be kept high, and the parents have the utmost responsibility to do that," he adds.

Sandhya Varma, a parenting coach and an academician, says that a learning environment should be created for the student right from the beginning, than just during the crucial exam time. "Many parents take the studies of their child very lightly in the earlier years of school, and later get all charged up."
Above all, each student has a different aptitude, and has to be dealt with in a different way, she adds. "Most often, parents' high expectations can adversely affect a child's performance. While the teachers are mostly well aware of where each student stands, the parents often find it difficult to comprehend it. "
Mala B Menon, Principal, Cochin Refineries school, says that a child cannot take a leap from a B grade to an A grade at one go. "Rather than complaining about it, parents must extend their full support to them. Keep a close watch on their schedule and try to spot when their study methods go wrong. In addition, there are always remedial classes," she says.

At the same time, when children underestimate his or her potential, it is up to the parents to provide timely support to uplift their spirits so as to make them utilise their skills to the maximum, according to Sandhya. If certain difficulties persist, the parents must identify the specific issue and try to address it.

"During exam time, the environment has to be kept completely stress-free, and the child's sleeping time, schedule and studying time have to be monitored by the parents. However, when a student puts in all efforts and still is not able to perform, it is a parent's duty to sit him or her down and tell them you should never equate marks with success," Sandhya says.

Mala is of the opinion that cutting down on junk food is another aspect to be given attention to during exam time, and it should be supplemented with nutritional food. "Also, parents must always practise what they preach, and when they ask kids to set aside mobile phones and TV, they must also compromise on their own usage of the devices. We might not be able to deny them completely, but we can limit their use."

The approach of Maya Varghese, another parent, is completely different, though, towards her three kids. While her daughter is studious, her eldest and youngest sons have an inclination towards sports, she says. She celebrates her kids' weaknesses and also embraces what they are good at, be it sports or academics. "No one can make a giraffe out of a monkey or vice versa. Nurturing their dreams, identifying what creates a spark in them and helping them be true to themselves will make them bloom. Kids should be allowed to explore their interests and allowed to channelise their energy into them. Unfortunately, parents and kids today are entangled in a vicious cycle of matching up to society's expectations. We end up pushing the kids."

She highlights that at a workplace, many employees who set high standards of performance have often been mediocre in school. "Many of the students just mug up the topics. They don't even know how to apply them, and that is where we fail as a system."

She concludes, "If they are taught to make mistakes and fall, they are sure to rise even higher. We must drive home the message that marks don't necessarily mean success in life."

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