Exam Season Series: Mylène Curtis Advises on Managing Stress
The teenage exam years, right on through to university, can induce anxiety with a small ‘a’ because of the sheer onslaught of academic workload. Young people can struggle with both time and expectation management; knowing what they should do and when they should do it.
Sometimes, if you have a daunting task and it is creating an incredible amount of anxiousness, you need to break it down to bite-size, achievable chunks – and the right tutors can help a young person do that.
A good tutor has the ability to help young people plan and put together a timetable that guides them through what needs to be done and by when. As each goal is achieved it is recognised, so the child feels supported as they progress onto the next stage.
Tuition can narrow down what’s important and what can be set aside.
A Holistic Approach
Excessive cramming and hot-housing, does impact negatively on wellbeing. If a family has overly high expectations and are thinking ‘my child is at grade level 5 (equivalent to a C) and to achieve an A* (grade 8 – 9), he or she needs tutoring for three hours a day, every day until GCSE exams commence in two weeks’ time’, taking this approach can actually be counterproductive.
Rather, what is needed is balance and a holistic approach; one that sets out realistic goals and a plan of incremental improvement – this can be a modest timetable of one-to-one sessions, and an avoidance of over-tutoring. When tutoring is involved, the approach for both family and tutor should be to encourage a supportive partnership so the child has clarity about the end goal.
Tutors are very good at recognising when enough is enough, although that also depends on the individual child, what their goals are and how much time they have. Good tutors can see when that extra hour is bringing diminishing returns and making no difference to their learning or when a child is benefiting from it.
Children who have benefited from private tuition often talk about the relief of being able to talk to someone about their schoolwork who is ‘on their side’, is non-judgemental and who has the expertise, time and patience to help them understand.
When a child feels secure in their academic learning, it improves confidence and helps to give them a sense of perspective about what they need to do, thereby reducing stress.