From the Principal’s Desk – 27 October 2016

Dear Parents

Supporting our Children through Examinations

As we begin to move towards the final stretch of the 2016 academic year, our students still have one more season to face with examinations just around the corner. This week, I want to suggest ways that you can support your child prepare for examinations over the following few weeks as it can be a very emotional and challenging time.

It’s important to teach children that exams are a part of what we do and that managing them in a positive, well-prepared manner builds resilience to the formal assessment that is part and parcel of schooling and any tertiary studies. They make up a pieces of the academic year and while it may be an important few weeks; it’s useful to keep our children’s perspective balanced during these times. It’s also valuable to help our children stay focussed on maintaining the balance of their lives by preparing well for exams but also taking time out of their planning and organisation to exercise, socialise and relax. When children don’t take time to be away from their notes and books, this is where we often find an unnatural build-up of stress and tension. Keeping good nutrition, enough sleep in place and home routines as simple and regular as possible also help create a sense of security. Helping our children design and keep as close to study timetables that are designed over three – four weeks before exams start are a healthy way to teach children the skills of forward-thinking and developing confidence through advanced planning and preparation.

If we as parents or teachers are particularly anxious about the exam our child is due to write, it’s a good idea not to project or communicate our anxiety through to our children. Our children watch us more closely than we realise to monitor environmental, social and emotional cues and will very often mirror our behaviours or adapt theirs to manage our reactions and responses. Likewise, we need to create spaces for our children to process the examinations they have just written. It’s all too easy to start the interrogation when we meet our children at the end of an exam day. It’s maybe a good idea to just tell your child you are pleased to see them, hold them and make sure they’re well fed, hydrated and rested before opening any discussion aimed at analysing or gaining information about an examination. Having an honest and open conversation about why we have successful and more challenging examination days and how an assessment result does not in any way define us as human beings is important to maintain a child’s equilibrium when times are stressful or they feel an exam has not gone particularly well. Adults staying calm, not judging, keeping the emotional climate steady, expressing support and love during the examination days, are what children really need. Significant adults, in this instance teachers and parents and their service to children writing exams through our presence and our words, really matter and have impact.

Speaking to a teacher on the day of the exam is only a good idea if you have information that could affect your child’s performance on the day of an exam.  Our focus on examination days is to keep our students calm and in a good academic space. If you have any concerns or queries regarding the upcoming examinations, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher and meet with them, preferably long before the examination day arrives.

Please don’t hesitate to communicate and set up meetings with your child’s teacher in this time leading up to final examinations and let’s support our children as a team.

Yours in education

Garth Kitching

Head of School