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6 easy-to-follow steps for parents to help their children during exams

Tips on how parents can support their children during exams. filed photo.

Tips on how parents can support their children during exams. filed photo.

Published Oct 19, 2021


The end of the year is approaching which means the exams period is on the horizon too. However, being in a pandemic is without a doubt putting additional exam pressure on pupils due to stress and anxiety.

Laager Rooibos, together with specialist dietitian partner, Mbali Mapholi, have compiled some easy tips and recipes to prevent the onset of stress.

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“While parents and caregivers want to ensure that the children in their care succeed at exams, this can be hampered by undue stress and anxiety. There is ample research that outlines the dangers of chronic stress over a prolonged period, such as the increased risk of depression and anxiety, and a healthy lifestyle and structured routine are known to assist in reducing stress and assisting body and mind when it comes to learning,” Laager Rooibos said.

Here are six easy-to-follow tips to get you going:

Tip #1: Timetables

Assist in drawing up a study timetable that includes achievable daily goals so as not to overwhelm the child. It’s important the timetable includes time for relaxation and fun as well as work to achieve a good balance.

Tip #2: Rest is best

While the temptation might be to get in as many studying hours as possible – particularly for matric pupils – taking time away from sleep will negatively impact studying. A sleep-deprived person is less likely to focus, and sleep plays an important role in consolidating memory to store information learnt.

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Mapholi, warns: “No matter what, do not allow the child to include night study times. Parents should allocate a non-negotiable bedtime during exam time and encourage eight hours of sleep a night.”

Tip #3: Keep active

Exercise doesn’t only improve concentration and retention, it aids in sleep and tackling stress as well. That’s why it’s important to factor exercise into every exam study timetable.

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“Parents and caregivers can accompany youngsters on a walk or jog around the block, or they can do yoga at home. It is easy for children to be sitting for many hours while studying so encourage 5 to 15 minutes of stretching each hour,” the dietitian said.

Tip #4: Keep hydrated

Drinking enough water is vital for bodily functions, but is also shown to improve cognitive ability by lowering anxiety during exams. Scientists from Stellenbosch University have found that drinking Rooibos tea can actually assist in reducing stress because of two rare antioxidants (aspalathin and nothofagin) which interfere with the production of the stress hormone, cortisol.

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Tip #5: Healthy eating

Mapholi emphasized the importance of a healthy diet when studying, with certain ‘brain foods’ considered great options.

She said it was important to start with a wholesome, nourishing breakfast. Planning your child’s meals and snacks is important. You can buy food items according to major groups – proteins, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats - and try to at least have five options a day from each food groups for snacks and meals.

Some great study snacks include:

  • Home-made trail mix which has nuts, dried fruit and seeds.
  • Dark chocolate with over 75% cocoa for boosting brain function (one or two pieces is sufficient).
  • Popcorn is a fantastic wholegrain snack, but limit the salt.
  • Apple slices with peanut butter provides a balance of simple carbohydrates, fats and protein.
  • Frozen grapes are a refreshing, sweet and healthy snack.

Tip #6: Make a care pack

Take some time to make a care pack for the child which could include a selection of Mapholi’s healthy snacks, some Laager Rooibos chamomile tea for increased stress-relief, immune-boosting vitamins, relaxing essential oils, and any other personalised gifts to show support and care during this time.