It’s that time of year…when exams are looming.
Students, teachers and parents have so much pressure on them to achieve certain results.
I’ve already been contacted by parents asking what they can do to help their child.
The stress and anxiety is getting to them.
Firstly, stay calm yourself.
Know that the best thing to do for your child is to stay focused on their happiness. I know so many successful people who didn’t do well at school. The exam results your child gets are an opportunity for their future. They’re not the end, if things go wrong.
Ensure your child plans their revision, including much-needed breaks. Keep them at their hobbies, so they have a good way to release their worries.
Try to exercise together. A walk, bike ride or swim can release much-needed happy hormones. A break away from studying helps your child process their revision too.
Help your child know their learning style. Finding out if they soak up information visually, auditory or kinaesthetically will ensure that their revision works well.
Feed them well. Sugary drinks and snacks, or those jam packed with additives and sweeteners can provide a short burst of energy, but can do more harm than good. Use weekends to bake healthier snacks that will feed their brain, without adding to their anxiety.
If you’d like an ‘Exam Stress Survival Kit’ you can get one here. I’ve also got a quick and easy ‘Get confident and calm for exams‘ online course. It’s 11 quick videos to watch, with tips to help your child manage their own stress.
Hope this helps.
I’ve been working in education with children in care, or those who aren’t doing well in the current education system.
It’s been my job to help them get back into education.
I focus on helping them find their passions, seeing their worth and helping them realise that they have control over their thoughts, emotions and beliefs.
There’s been many times when I’ve felt like a total failure.
For example, if I’ve had it in my lesson plan to teach them fractions and haven’t, I’m aware that I haven’t met my targets. Yet, in reality, that child may have had an issue to deal with that day and needed lots of support to deal with their anger or upset. So that’s what I’ve given them.
The minute I pick the child up, my lesson plans are literally ripped up and thrown out of the window.
All of this has led me to question, what is education?
The powers that be favour formal education. The leading party decides what kids need to learn, they set targets and then ensure that the teachers jump through hoops to meet those targets.
There’s informal education, where kids can try out more vocational activities and find out what it is that makes them tick.
At school, I was a swot. I soaked up everything that I had to learn and I was proud of my exam results.
However, looking back I now question why there was so much focus on the topics I had to learn. I’ve never really used all of the maths equations I did at GCSE. In fact, I’m not sure that the facts that I learned at school have helped me in my day-to-day life.
The key things that have changed my life are learning about my thoughts, emotions and beliefs.
The psychology behind why I can feel the way I do and that I have the power to change it.
Knowing how to make good friends and let go of the people who weren’t truly there for me, learning how to like myself and appreciate my worth, managing finances, being a parent and finding my gifts and trusting that I could follow them are the lessons that have meant the most to me.
Yes, school gave me a passion for learning that has carried on through to University and my life.
To me, that’s what education is – inspiring people to find their passions and continue a lifetime of learning.
The current system is so formulaic, it’s zapped the fun out of learning.
Teachers aren’t being given the chance to use their creativity to show their passion for their chosen subjects.
They spend more time doing lesson plans, marking and risk assessments than they do sharing the passions that got them into teaching in the first place.
My 7 year old is a very intelligent boy. Yet, he’s already told me that ‘school sucks and is boring.’ He’s at a good school, with great teachers, but he’s not interested in what he has to learn.
He’s already found his passions.
Reading, drawing and working out how things function. He completes maths homework in five minutes and questions why it was given in the first place.
He showed great insight into what life should be like, when he commented that homework isn’t needed and that children would be better off if they had time to play and spend time with their parents.
Education is about questioning.
It’s good to question why things are the way they are. But I fear that the powers that be are using the current education system to create robots who don’t question anything and just go with what they’ve been told to do.
The masses are easier to control when they don’t question the status quo.
Children often have a natural curiosity for things and this should be encouraged, instead of viewed upon as an annoyance, or disruption.
Education is about role models sharing their passions.
The best teachers are those who are passionate about their subjects. They still want to learn what they can about their interests and their enthusiasm shines through.
And the subjects that make the most difference to the kids I work with? Art, music, dance/exercise, emotional awareness and the opportunity to get outside in nature.
Unfortunately, these are the subjects that are seeing the biggest budget cuts.
What I’ve also found is that kids know what they need. They seem to know their passions and what makes them happy from an early age. It’s us adults that talk them out of it and tell them that they ‘can’t do this or that’.
The current education system is stifling, old-fashioned and not fit-for-purpose.
Let’s hope that the people in power will start to listen to the creative minds we have within education – both the teachers and pupils. That’s where the creative solutions lie.
Bullying is so hard to deal with when it’s happening to your child.
You wonder why them? Are they treating people kindly, or are they doing things that annoy others?
Then you realise that it’s not them, it’s the bullies.
You spend hours on Google looking for ways to help them. As always, there’s conflicting advice and you’re left feeling stuck.
My eldest has been bullied twice.
The first time, the Head dealt with it immediately. The second, the bullies told my son to go and kill himself because no-one loved him. Despite the Head knowing this, she told him to stop being ‘crabbie.’
I moved my children to a new school and I’m pleased to say that they’re happy. My eldest still has days where his self esteem is low, but overall he’s much happier and has friends who appreciate him.
Here are 5 tips to help your child if they’re being bullied.
- Children need to be heard. Don’t jump in with advice, or judgement. Listen and then work on solutions together. You could role play how they’ll respond to the bullies. You could prepare comebacks. Listen to how they feel about everything and how they want you to handle it. They often have the answers you’re looking for.
- Get them involved in activities outside of school. Join other clubs/activities and set up play dates to help them strengthen the friendships they have, or start new friendships. That way they’ll feel supported. I signed my children up to ju jitsu, so that they can feel confident protecting themselves.
- Give them as much love and praise as you can. My eldest displayed very difficult behaviour when he was being bullied. It would have been easy to hand out punishments, but I knew it was his way of coping. I praised him for the behaviour I wanted to see, helped him through the difficult times and chose my battles.
- Fight for them. I had to see the Head on more than one occasion. I was the nagging mother who upset a lot of people. Other mothers in the village fell out with me because of what I did. But, I knew what I needed to do to keep my son happy and I did it.
- Get help. When I felt that we weren’t being heard, I got help. CAHMS is a good place to go, as well as MIND. We went to the local authority’s prevention team and they sent a lady out to watch my son in school, as well as coming to chat things through with us.
Whatever you’re going through, take it one day at a time.
P.S. I wrote my series of fun books after my eldest was bullied. There’s one for children, teenagers and women. They’re made up of fun life coaching exercises to help build confidence and self esteem. They could really help you through this.
I remember having lots of hot Ribena when I was studying for my GCSEs.
I scoffed packets of midget gems in my A level Art exam, to help me cope with my nerves.
Food can have a major impact on how we feel and, more often than not, we’re trained to reach out to certain foods when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
It’s not your fault
What you don’t realise is, that it’s not your fault.
So much of the food you eat and the drinks you have are filled with added sugars and sweeteners, which can affect your mood and your outlook.
Some of the ‘hidden nasties’ include:
- Aspartame (E951) – this can cause high blood pressure, seizures, depression, numbness, aching muscles and dizziness. It’s currently in over 6000 food products available to us.
- Sucralose (E955) – it’s sold under the brand name Splenda. Scientific tests show it shrinks the thymus gland and enlarges the liver and kidneys, it reduces growth, decreases red blood cell count and causes diarrhoea.
- Acesulfame K (E590) – stimulates insulin which causes hypoglycaemia after a low calorie intake. This means it’ll give you low blood sugar levels, which can make you feel clumsy, confused, sweaty or shaky, to name but a few!
- Saccharin (E954) – this was an ‘anticipated human carcinogen’ for many years. Studies claimed it could cause cancer, others claimed it couldn’t. It’s up to you what you believe. It’s up to you if you want to consume it. Saccharin also causes irritability, insomnia, headaches, itching and diarrhoea.
So, if you’re revising and you want to reach out for a comforting food, just check the label first.
All the high energy drinks out there might keep you awake and focused, but they could be adding to your insomnia and irritability.
That packet of sweets that seem to calm you down, could have an ingredient in it that will add to your mood swings and panic attacks.
It’s your body, do what’s right for you
Most people glare at me when I tell them this information. I was the same when I found out. All the happy memories associated with my favourite sweets and treats felt like a big fat lie. I didn’t know that they could do so much damage.
It took practise to break free from the trap and I can happily say, that I no longer enjoy the sweets that I used to go to in times of need.
Instead, I’ve trained my taste buds to savour dark chocolate, or crisps with just a few key ingredients. Fruit is my sugar hit and I know that in times of stress, slow-releasing carbs will serve me well.
Everyone is different when it comes to what they need, but the key is to listen to your body.
Try some of these stress-busting foods to feel good:
- Green veg, potatoes, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, dairy products, seafood, lean meat, liver, kidneys, poultry, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Why? Because the B vitamins will help release the energy you need to focus and will keep your nervous system healthy.
- Fresh fruits – especially citrus fruits and blackcurrants, and fresh vegetables. Why? To help keep your body healthy and keep those bugs at bay.
- Wholemeal bread, brown rice, pulses, oats, wholewheat pasta and potatoes. Why? They’ll boost your energy levels and keep them consistent, so you won’t get sugar cravings, or low moods. And they’ll help keep your mind calm.