8 ways to keep PSLE stress at bay

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PSLE stress is a norm with both Singaporeans students and parents. Here are 8 surefire ways to keep the exam stress at bay.

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Exams are a stressful time for the entire family. Don’t let it get the better of your child.

Most parents look at PSLE as a life changing event that determines the future of their kids. All the hype that is built up around this ‘major’ exam inevitably causes frayed nerves and high stress levels (for both kids and parents).

This issue has been so prevalent that even PM Lee announced in his 2013 National Day Rally that there would be changes implemented to the PSLE scoring system in the future, to reduce “excessive competition to chase that last point.”

Education Minister Heng Swee Kit has gone on record to reassure parents by saying, “if you see it [PSLE] as one of the many checkpoints in our learning journey, then it’s much less stressful.”

Keeping in mind the nerve-racking exam climate that was developing in Singapore, the Ministry of Education also no longer releases the names of the top-scoring PSLE students.

What is exam stress?

Exam stress happens when a person is unable to cope with simple day to day activities due to excessive pressure or expectations, real or imagined.

It manifests in the form of constant fatigue, forgetfulness, lack of interest, irritability etc. There may even be difficulty in breathing, stomach cramps or headaches.

Here are 8 things that we as parents can do, to not stress out and more importantly, not pass on our fears to our kids.

Follow a plan

Support your child in organising the revision. Don’t avoid challenging topics and have a good balance of difficult and easy subjects in the timetable to keep the enthusiasm going.

Do away with last minute pressure by having a daily ‘to do’ list and weekly study goals. Celebrate every milestone to boost confidence.

It is common to find parents taking leave from work or quitting their jobs to see their child through the PSLE. They hover around their kids and with irrational demands and apprehensions, adding to the feeling of panic.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Carol Balhetchet calls it “cramping parenting.” She suggests parents monitor progress throughout the year instead of doing it when the exams are just around the corner.

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Create a to-do list with your child. It’ll help him be organised and it’s always satisfying to strike off what they’ve accomplished!

Be supportive rather than pushy

Make sure you’re on the same page regarding revision expectations. Monitor their work. Be a facilitator, helping them with their difficulties and cheering them on when the going gets tough.

Stay in touch with the teachers to know what’s going on in school and find out how you can supplement the schools efforts at home.

Be there if your child needs you and empower your child by stepping back when you are not needed.

Develop self-confidence

Having faith in your child’s ability is a major step towards conquering exam fears. This confidence rubs off on children as well as boosts their morale, in turn motivating them to put in their best effort.

Focus on the effort the child puts in. Our job as parents is to stay calm and let PSLE be just another milestone in our child’s learning journey.

Manage your expectations

Parental expectations lead to kids fearing that they will disappoint their parents if they do not perform well. Reassure them that you are there for them through thick and thin.

Parents must be conscious of their child’s abilities and set reasonable goals which are achievable. Catastrophic predictions of what will happen to your child if he doesn’t make it to the best secondary school do little except create panic and fear.

Are you helping your child beat exam stress? Read on to see what else you can do.

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