It’s no surprise that Y11 impacts on the mental health of teens. Everything at school, all day, every day is exam-driven. The education system as it stands is a tough thing to cope with. A lot of parents find their teenager starts feeling anxious or stressed, and it’s tough to know how to help them.
There’s no real guidance as to how much to revise, or when to start, or how to do it, because everyone is different, so where do you even start??
Basically, it all adds up to a very confusing and stressful year for everyone involved!
Here are my 3 tips on how to help your child beat the feelings of overwhelm and stress.
1. Help them see they have more time than they think.
If they start revising just a little bit each day (or even just on a couple of days each week), it all adds up quicker than they realise. Use this calculator to see how the little bits add up to a lot by the time exams arrive.
First written exams 2023
How many hours (total) per day are you revising?
Change number of subjects?
Change number of hours a day?
1. These figures are for the first written exams, which start on the 12th of May 2023. That doesn’t include the languages speaking and listening exams, which are usually in April.
2. We’re not suggesting they should be revising lots daily. This is to show them that just a little bit now will have added up to lots of time by exams, and so they shouldn’t feel like they have too much to do. There is no real answer to ‘how many hours should they revise for to be ready for an exam’, so it’s simply about making sure they do enough to feel confident and prepared.
2. Schedule in relaxation time!
It can feel like there’s lots of pressure to be working all the time, but help them resist that. It’s not healthy, and burnout is not pleasant.
Working for hours at a time isn’t great for the memory anyway, so help make sure they take breaks at least every half an hour, and discourage them from trying to do too much each day. (You could take up a cuppa if you want to stop them working without it seeming like you’re ‘nagging’.)
If they have a hobby, unless it takes up a huge amount of time, it’s probably a great idea to keep it up. It’s even better if it’s an active hobby!
It’s absolutely ok for them to take some time off. That’s why our summer prep checklist only covers 4 of the 6 weeks, and should only take a couple of hours a week to complete. It’s also a great way of getting started on the ‘little bits add up to a lot’ plan from tip 1!
It’s their last chance to properly forget about school and chill out before the chaos of Y11 hits, so let them make the most of it.
3. Meditation / mindfulness (yes, really)
I used to think meditation involved sitting with your legs tied in a knot, chanting ‘ommmmmm’. I would probably have laughed at you if you suggested I should do it regularly. But then I was signed off with depression. I’m very lucky that the people in my life spotted the signs and made me get some help, and I’m all better now, but it was pretty sucky for a while. If you’re concerned about your child, you can get advice here.
One of the suggestions for helping myself get better was meditation. And it worked. I’m not saying it’s going to fix everything, but it’s actually pretty great for getting your head right.
You can find ‘guided meditation’ apps, or videos on youtube, and they talk you through the whole thing, from the relaxation part to the bit where they tell you how awesome you are, and how everything is great. (Sounds weird, but you’ll start believing it after a while. Honest.)
Keep reminding them you love them, and cut them some slack when they need it.
Also, biscuits help.