Tips to survive the exam period

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As our kids dive into their books this year-end exams, here are some ways we can support them – from balancing the right amounts of rest and hard work, to providing the right nutrition to feed their brains.

Examinations, whether we like it or not, are a fact of life. One of the many things we struggle with as parents of school-going kids is how to survive exams and help our kids cope with their exam preparations – all while keeping a balanced view of the purposes exams serve.

While grades are not everything and do not define our future, the rigour of revising for exams does nurture perseverance, resilience and self-discipline. When handled well, it also hones time management and multitasking skills – all of which are important life skills.

However, as we see our kids dive into their books to revise for their year-end exams, we as parents would naturally like to lend them support. Apart from planning a well-paced revision schedule, here are three other personal tips on how we survive the exam period in our household:

1. Rest

As students, we have done it too – “mugging” late into the night or wee hours of the morning. Sadly, we have to admit that apart from giving a false sense of bravura, mugging and staying up late may do  more damage than good. For starters, it makes us too tired to concentrate on the exams the following day.

It’s a little known fact that our children’s energy is depleted while they are asleep. That is why sufficient rest is required to improve concentration. With adequate, high-quality rest, our kids gain clarity of thought and emotional stability. Most experts recommend eight continuous hours of sleep for children aged 12 and below. This minimum sleep duration should not be compromised even during exam season.

After fasting all night while sleeping, our blood glucose levels drop to an all-time low. This affects our ability to concentrate unless that energy is regained the next morning through breakfast. Studies show that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school, and have more physical energy that those who don’t. More importantly, when we eat breakfast, it immediately lowers cortisol levels – a stress hormone. Upon first waking, our cortisol levels are the highest. So no matter how time-strapped we are, we should never compromise on giving our kids a healthy breakfast to start their day.

How we do it:

For our kids, we enforce a strict bedtime routine and sleeping “curfew” of 9pm even during exam season. One hour before bedtime, we give our daughter the liberty to do what she enjoys – be it reading her favourite Young Scientist magazines or dabbling in calligraphy paintings to wind down. On weekdays, our daughter wakes at 6am. On weekends, we let her sleep-in a little longer. Well-rested children are able to focus better, and in general are happier and healthier.

Our daughter has to leave for school by 6.45am each day. Even though the morning routines are usually very rushed, my husband and I ensure we provide our daughter with a  simple, nutritious breakfast so that she has the energy to focus and perform well in school.

Her go-to breakfasts are  either a whole meal sandwich or homemade pancakes with her favourite MILO drink.

2. Recreation

While play or recreational time allows our kids to de-stress from the intense revision, whenever exams draw near, it is so tempting for us parents to remove “play time” entirely. Oftentimes, we demand that our kids revise non-stop. 

How we do it:

We intentionally schedule pockets of time to bring our kids outdoors or help them to unwind from the exam stress. This can be playing at the neighbourhood park, watching a movie or playing a musical instrument after dinner.

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During recreation, kids socialise with others – family members, siblings or friends – people who form their social support network. These interactions fill their love tank, and they get encouragement knowing that they are not alone in this stressful exam season. Recreation is also a great way for parents to send kids the important message that our lives do not come to a complete standstill when exams draw near. There are more valuable things in life apart from grades.

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3. Re-Energise 

A school-going child’s day can get really busy and stressful with classes, after-school activities, homework and more. And let’s not forget about the demands of exam periods, which can take a lot out of anyone, let alone a primary school child. The stress of all of this may lead to lower immunity, lower self-esteem and lower levels of energy. One way parents can help their children manage a demanding day is by looking closely into their diet and nutrition, whether this is on a regular school day or during exams.

How we do it:

In order to give our kids essential nutrients so they can tackle whatever their day throws at them, I always offer them breakfast accompanied by our family’s fave nutritious beverage – MILO – a time-tested classic beverage since our grandparents’ generations.

They like it hot….they like it cold:

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Milo comes with the HCS logo, and is lower in sugar. We start our kids’ day with their favourite cup of Milo at breakfast as it tastes great, lower in sugar and gives our kids the energy and nutrition to power them through the day.

In the afternoons, Dana loves drinking a can of chilled Milo to cool down from her CCA activities. Buddy brings a small packet of UHT Milo without fail whenever he goes on class excursions. Even adults like us enjoy a cup of refreshing Milo Peng when we dine out with friends. 

Milo contains milk, malt, vitamins and minerals. As a beverage, Milo provides us with:

  • Long-lasting energy for recreation and revision from the unique malt extract, Protomalt
  • Strong bones and teeth from the enriched calcium
  • More efficient release of energy from the B Vitamins and Magnesium. These are especially important as energy and focus tend to wane without proper refuel.
  • Better overall immunity and health

Milo has been a fond part of our childhood and remains a favourite beverage in many of our homes. And this is for good reason! Not only does it have the delicious taste that our kids love, but it also provides the energy and nutrition that our kids need. This is a crucial time for our kids’ future, and they need our love and support. Even as our kids go through the hectic exam season, let Milo give them the extra boost to go the extra mile and reach for their goals.

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