By Dickson Tumuramye
This is a month when our children will sit for end-of-term exams in primary and secondary schools. This is also happening in some higher learning institutions that are doing their end-of-semester examinations this month.
Every examination season causes phobias for some students and this is not necessarily because they are not prepared for them. Phobia comes from many factors. These can include high parent’s expectations of a child’s performance, inability to concentrate, difficulty settling into a school/class, harassment by teachers, fear of certain subjects, and paying too much attention to examination results.
Some children are academically dull and lack the confidence to excel in academics. Others fear because they did not perform to their expectations in the last exams and they are not sure how it will be this term/semester. In the past, others have experienced sickness during exams, some have not been able to complete fees on time.
Some children who get exam phobia towards or during the examination period can develop illnesses, headaches, loss of appetite, anxiety and stress, diarrhea. Some experience vomiting, nausea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, an abnormal heartbeat, etc. Different symptoms may happen to your child depending on the conditions they experience at school and at home.
Whether your child experiences examination phobia or not, adequate preparation is essential. Children and schools are not the only ones responsible for such preparations; parents also have a responsibility. It is helpful for your child to know that the school does not demand for any school requirements from him/her. If you have not yet finished paying school fees by now, talk to the administration so that your child will not be sent home or stopped from doing exams. This causes shame and fear among children and affects them emotionally. As a university staff, I have seen students chased out in the middle of an examination and this can disorganize them for the rest of the papers.
If your children are day scholars, ensure they revise at home. It is imperative that they are monitored during their preps. Some children are left to read on their own and choose to do other things even when they know they have exams or assignments. Others can play instead of reading. Take time to check if they have class notes in their books. Give them some work to test their readiness. This could be a Q&A session on what they studied.
Create a conducive atmosphere for them to read and pass. You can also get a teacher to coach them in particular subjects where they are weak.
If they are in a boarding section, don’t miss any remaining visiting days and have time to talk about many things including their readiness for exams. You can measure their preparation, talk to their teachers, check their last tests and midterm exams, see how they performed in each subject, and give suggestions on how to improve the ones they didn’t succeed in. You can ask the ones at the higher institutions of learning to show you their results for course works, and tests and ensure they don’t have retakes or you know about it.
If a child shows symptoms of fear/phobia, it is normal but still encourages them. Some people also fear failure, but your positive talk and letting them know that this is also part of life makes wonders to them.
Learners are already undergoing a lot of pressure and anxiety but see how to help your child to be steady and concentrate well for exams. Some children have some regular ailments towards exams and need your help. I hope your school knows about it.
You may need to do a medical check-up before the exam or work on what triggers the sickness on time. Keep in touch with the class teacher, matron, or school nurse to receive updates on how the child is progressing. Some children may need enough pocket money, especially those with problems with the daily school menu (posho and beans). Possibly you can be in touch with the school canteen during this season to ensure that your child is eating well since he/she uses a lot of energy as they read for exams.
Remind them to always take time to read and understand the instructions on the examination paper. They should never take examination regulations for granted. Please know that every word of appreciation, encouragement, and inspiration you give to your child regardless of the class, level, and age, can never leave them the same.
The writer is a child advocate, parenting coach, marriage counselor, and founder – Men of Purpose Mentorship Programme.