My child is in year 12, so what can I do to help reduce their stress before HSC exams?
There are obvious pros and cons as to how much time a student should study.
Sources such as healthline.com and academia21.com state in response to the question: What are the harmful effects of studying too much? as presented in reference.com as follows:
‘Studying is generally considered a good thing, but studying too much can lead to health problems, stress and social alienation, according to Healthline. Academia International notes that too much studying can actually have the opposite effect, causing students to become distracted, forget important facts or make silly mistakes. The site also notes that exhaustion and “burn out” are common.’
Healthline.com references a study performed by a Stanford researcher and published in the Journal of Experimental Education that found that too much homework and studying can have negative effects on students’ behaviour and wellbeing.
Students who completed more than 3.1 hours of homework per night experienced physical health problems, depression, sleep deprivation, academic stress and a lack of balance in their lives. Results indicated that anything more than two hours of studying per night could be counterproductive.
A British study reported by Mail Online revealed that girls who spent too much time at desks studying had low bone density.
The report also notes, however, that this can be counteracted by getting more physical activity, specifically at least three hours of high-intensity upright sports per week.
Some research indicates study groups can reduce procrastination, students learn faster, new perspectives are obtained, students learn new/different study skills, monotony is reduced, learning gaps are reduced as note sharing can take place and it gives students a ‘real world’ experience given once they are in the workforce they will be working in group environments for the most part.
There are also some support techniques that students can use:
- Gaining a better understanding of referencing and research techniques.
- How to properly edit or format papers.
- Note taking and creating summary charts, lists or diagrams that organise the needed material.
- Number the pages of class notes for each subject so they can be easily identified.
- Use abbreviations and develop your own shorthand.
- Also use symbols for words whenever possible and be creative but keep a list of them to be consistent.
- Understand how to engage with the material, what is it that we are learning? Scan the material noting any definitions or equations.
- Efficient use of the internet to assist understanding material being studied or contact a local university to see what support initiatives they offer (getting lecturers or grad students to assist with student study groups).
Finally, there are some possible destress techniques that may be useful:
- Quiet instrumental/ambient background music will help stimulate the brain.
- As in a work environment, get up and stretch or take a quick walk.
- The use of tactile items such as; Velcro, squishy balls, bubble wrap or soft pronged seat cushions.
- Doing meditation or yoga.
- Eating chocolate, the higher the percentage, for example dark chocolate which is 70 per cent, will release endorphins that act as natural stress fighters.
- Drinking black tea, which will lower post-stress cortisol levels providing a greater feeling of relaxation.
- Chewing gum can accomplish similar results.
- Putting away all mobile phones so there is no temptation to go on them to check for messages.
- The use of essential oils such as lavender can reduce stress.
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating healthy especially before exams.
- Support students by giving gentle head, neck and shoulder massages.
- The use of old exam papers can provide students with format, styles/types of questions, an idea of the amount of time it takes to take a similar exam and essay lengths.
- Don’t cram or pull all-nighters, stick to a schedule, use flash cards, take good notes, read, re-read and review main points/topics.
Mainly just be there and support them as they go through their final hurdle of high school.
Anthony Perrone is college counsellor at Trinity Anglican College. The views expressed are Dr Perrone's and not necessarily those of Trinity Anglican College. Got a question for the counsellor? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org