Today, we delve into a significant concern affecting students nationwide: the intricate balance between exam readiness and safeguarding mental health.
As we approach Stress Awareness Day on November 1st, 2023, and students prepare for a slew of exams including GCSE resits, 11+ Common Entrance exams, and 13+ Common Entrance exams, it’s vital to grasp the hurdles they encounter.
Understanding the Challenge: Statistics on UK Student Wellbeing
According to recent studies conducted by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and YoungMinds:
- 1 in 6 children in the UK has a probable mental health disorder.
- 78% of students report feeling pressure to succeed academically.
- 65% of students feel stressed about exams and school work.
- Only 14% of students say they would talk to a teacher if they were feeling worried or sad.
These statistics highlight the prevalent challenges faced by students, emphasizing the urgent need for a balanced approach to exam preparation that prioritizes mental wellbeing. So let’s dive into some Stress Awareness tips:
Practical Solutions for Balancing Exam Preparation and Wellbeing
- Promote Open Conversations:
Encourage students to talk openly about their feelings and concerns. Schools and parents should create safe spaces for students to express themselves without fear of judgment. See our Mindful Toolbox episode on Better Communication
- Introduce Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:
Incorporate mindfulness practices into the daily routine to help students manage stress and anxiety. Breathing exercises and meditation can be effective tools for relaxation. At Bettering Youth, our tutors regularly embed mindfulness techniques into our sessions. We believe that if students are taught how to support their wellbeing during normal lessons, they’ll be able to self soothe in times of high stress. Chat with us about our Mindfulness-Based Tuition programmes
- Encourage Healthy Habits:
Promote balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. Physical activity has been proven to reduce stress and improve overall mental health. Most students feel that they need to cram in more studying time – even if that means staying up until the wee hours of the morning. This is counterintuitive! Our tutors will help to educate and coach your child to understand the learning process and the 7 Pillars to Strong Mental Wellbeing + Academic success
- Foster a Growth Mindset:
Emphasize the importance of learning and growth over perfection. Encourage students to view challenges as opportunities to learn and develop resilience. Want to help your child feel more empowered when they’re struggling? Be sure to read our top blog: Revealed: How to Build a Growth Mindset and Succeed More
- Limit Exam Pressure:
Create a supportive environment where exam results are not the sole measure of a student’s worth. Celebrate effort and progress, fostering a sense of achievement beyond grades. While exams and exam practise is an important part of the learning journey, it’s not the only metric to measure success! Bettering Youth tutors use a variety of assessment models to ensure students are progressing and we build their confidence in a topic before exposing them to the more complex and abstract topics they’ll see in an exam format.
- Promote Social Connections:
Encourage students to maintain social connections with friends and family. Social support is crucial in times of stress and can significantly enhance mental wellbeing. While exam season is a time to hunker down and get to work, why not do it with friends? Our tutors are running regular Maths and English small group sessions to support students in building their academic prowess + social connections.
- Provide Accessible Resources:
Ensure students have access to online resources and helplines where they can seek advice and support anonymously if needed. Our parents + students are provided with relevant local lines for support.
Exams are here to stay whether we like it or not.
Instead of making it into a big ugly scary thing, let’s work together to support students in building their toolbox so they become stress-aware and know how to support themselves.