Posts Tagged ‘exam stress’

Exam stress

fatimaBy Fatima Kazee, fulltime mum to Imaad (9), Zayn(7) and Zahreen (4), part-time wife to fisherman husband Aadil. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey &  is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

November always seems like the longest month of the year to me.  There’s the end of year functions, school prize-giving’s, concerts and…. Exams.  The stress of the exams alone is enough to warrant a long beach holiday where there are no books, pens, Annie apples or Uppie umbrellas.

These days I know that I don’t have much to stress about since my boys are in the foundation phase of school, yet I still do.  What if my son fails grade 1?  What if he doesn’t remember that the legs of a bed are actually called “voete” and not “bene”?  What if he forgets how to use a number line and ends up on the wrong number!!

Then I wonder whether I’m  not more stressed out then they are?  Quite honestly, they seem to be rather calm and self-assured.  I asked each of them how they feel about getting their reports at the end of the year and how they think they’re going to fair.  Both answered with a list of gifts I could choose to buy for them when they get their excellent reports.  Right.  That settles that dilemma then.  Then I had a discussion with a friend which may have helped stop the nightmares (mine that is).

She argued that maybe I’m stressed because I don’t have faith in their capabilities or that I’m more worried about whether I as a parent have done enough.  And that if either of them come home with less than excellent results, then I would feel as though I have failed them. Or worse, that I failed as a parent because of that one day I let them watch TV for an hour instead of the usual half. (ok, ok, it happened more than once) Of course, I defended myself saying that was ridiculous and explaining that if I didn’t put in the effort with them now, how would they understand the importance of getting good results later when it really counts?

Bad move on my part because that’s where she came at me with the “You can’t make them do their best by forcing them to study”.  I’m not forcing, I’m just insisting that they get good grades so that they never feel disappointed for not trying harder.  The average Joe is well, just that, average.  And in today’s times, average doesn’t get you very far.

The turning point came for me when she said that perhaps I was more concerned about how people around me would react to less than superb results from my kids (like the grandparents).  She suggested that I place less emphasis on their grades and rather focus more on making the process more fun  – “don’t look at the pot of gold at the end, make it a rainbow to get to the gold”.  So I’ve tried it and…. It works.  Well at this level anyway.  There’s no bribery of a gift for getting a good report.  There’s no fighting about sitting with the school work.  There’s now just an understanding that when they make an effort, they get good results and that in turn makes them feel good… and may result in a small reward, like a remote control car.

Click here to find a list of other articles written by Fatima Kazee

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Preparing for exams, a letter to students

by  Michael Marinus, an early thirties  dad of Megan(3) and James(1) who also works as a Chiropractor in Joburg You’ll find him on twitter @mikemarinus or visit his blog

Dear Student.

When I think of all the exams I wrote whilst at school and during my university days, one recurring theme comes to mind. FEAR. It was my worst enemy during these stressful times and it is only recently that I came across some information about this ‘fear’ state of mind that I wish I had understood when I was in your position.

We all go through a certain amount of healthy anxiety when faced with an examination situation but it is how we deal with this emotion that ultimately decides the outcome. If we let it get the better of us, our chances of performing at our best become impossible. Fear is a state in which the brain changes gears and looks for excuses rather than opportunities. Let me explain.

When you are confronted with stressful situations and you allow yourself to be sucked down by negative emotions to the point of fear, a part of your nervous system activates something called the fight or flight response within you. This is your body’s way of dealing with fear and leaves you in a state where you are constantly agitated, the blood is flowing to the wrong bits of you and you cannot think clearly. This dulls the part of your brain that needs to be sharp when studying and makes it almost impossible to retain information in a way that it can be easily accessed during the actual exam.

Now, how do we make sure that we don’t end up in this position? Fear’s greatest enemies are preparation and confidence. The more you prepare, the more confident you will become in your ability, its that simple. For those of you who tend to worry and put off studying, make sure that a big part of your preparation is learning to calm yourself before trying to study. Half an hour spent putting yourself in the right mindset is a lot more beneficial than three hours spent in useless agitation in front of your books.

Cramming is not preparation. Believe me, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Preparation needs to be a constant process that puts you into a routine as you approach the exam date. It is a proven medical fact that your brain needs time to absorb information and to truly have something sink in, you need to have encountered it at least 17 times during your preparation. This is why, as boring as it may be to go over and over your work, it is necessary if you want to be able to retrieve it when you are sitting in that room and its only you and your thoughts versus the questions.

Good luck to you all, take your time to think about what they are asking and most importantly don’t rush to be the first one to finish. Look over the paper to check you haven’t missed anything and you’ll be just fine.

Eliminate the effects of exam stress before they eliminate your kids

By Freda Paxinos, an  educator and  authority on the use of dietary supplements in the effective treatment of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) in children. Read her blog

End of year exams are a very stressful time for pupils, students, and parents alike.

We all know this, but did you know that when we are stressed out, cells in our bodies can be damaged or even die? When we are uptight, our cells need more blood sugar than normal, to prepare the body to fight or flee! The adrenal glands release hormones that break down body proteins and convert them to sugar.  In addition, minerals are released from our bones, fat is mobilised and salt is retained.

If stress is prolonged, and our bodies don’t have sufficient nutrients to counteract the effects, glands can be destroyed. Usually, the first glands to be damaged are the lymph glands, which are essential for the production of antibodies. The adrenal hormones will then break down protein cells from the liver, kidneys and stomach and this is how stress precipitates disease.

However, if our bodies are being supplied with the essential nutrients needed to replace proteins, calcium etc, glands and organs will immediately be rebuilt. So, whilst we cannot eliminate stress, we can ensure that it doesn’t do irreparable damage to our bodies!

Since stress is rife in our lives, regardless of whether we are young or old, working or at school, health experts worldwide have predicted that stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia may be the biggest wellness issues facing us in the 21st Century.

So, what can we do to ensure that stress doesn’t kill us?

  • Firstly, we have to make time for ourselves! Everyone needs quiet time, time to think, time to meditate, time to engage in prayer, and time to put our lives into perspective.
  • By the same token, we need to make time to interact with people we love, people who care for us and provide the support we need to carry us through rough periods in our lives.
  • Daily exercise is critical and a good work out or even a short walk, will make us feel more relaxed and less stressed out.
  • Eating balanced meals, avoiding greasy junk food, and ensuring that our bodies are getting the nutrients we need is crucial.
  • And, of course,  getting sufficient sleep is vital to good health.
  • Having said all that, obviously, we can’t always do what we know we should be doing to manage our stress levels. There are, however, many stress beating supplements that will boost your nutritional defences and eliminate the harmful effects of stress.

    As a Biology teacher, I have first hand knowledge of what stress can do to our kids, so please feel free to contact me if you would like any advice in this regard.