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Exam Season: A Survival Guide For Parents

Cathy Fava shares some top tips to help parents cope during stressful exam periods.

As a mum, during exams, my role is to be the best support I can be for my child.

Having recently finished going through big exams with my sons for the fifth time, I am getting the hang of it. My son, George, recently completed twenty eight GCSE exams in May and June 2017, so I know how stressful exam season can be for everyone.

I am so pleased with how George coped. His motto, ‘Relaxation is the key to success’, made us laugh, but there was something in this.

He maintained a balance by working very hard but also taking regular breaks. We enjoyed walking together in the Lake District, playing games and watching films as a family.

Most importantly, he did not abandon his relationship with God during exams. We have raised our children to believe in God’s loving care and to trust Him first: ‘Seek first His kingdom...and all these things will be given to you as well’. (Matthew 6:33)

Surrender And Encourage

God loves your child more than you. This is vital to remember. Surrender your children to God’s love and encourage them to always put God first.

Keeping a balance is essential. I believe that achieving good results gives them more choices in life. However, you do not want your children to see you as a ‘nagging mother’ who cares more about good exam results than them as individuals. Keep having fun together. 

I also believe doors can close if talents are wasted.  If my children can learn to make the most of their God-given talents, the responsibility becomes their own- not their mother’s!  Even so, if they miss opportunities, God is good and can turn all things to good.

Enabling them to become who God is calling them to be is far more important than academic achievement.  It means a lot to me that my boys love coming home from University and we join together as a family.

As a parent, you need God’s help. You cannot take on the responsibility alone. You need to look after yourself.

Top Ten Tips

Here, then, are my top ten tips for surviving the exam season:

1. Pray and fast for your child. Ask for the intercession of Our Lady and the saints.

2. Partner with your child in planning a revision timetable and offer lots of encouragement. Start revision early enough to minimise panic.

3. Prepare healthy food and drink. Restrict caffeine and junk food.

4. Encourage regular revision breaks, especially outdoor exercise. Include fun and relaxing time.

5. Help them get enough sleep and discourage late night revision and socialising.

6. Cut them some slack. It’s a pressured time. Let it go!

7. Remind them to keep their commitments to God, including Mass and personal prayer. If they feel anxious, ask for God’s peace.

8. Pray over your child before each exam and for them during exams.

9. Don’t become a nagging mum! Keep having fun.

10. Put God first and all will be well.  Give thanks before, during and after exams- and on results day!

Put God First

Through experience, and many mistakes, I know, if I put God first, everything else will be taken care of.

This summer, two of my sons are taking university final exams, one taking ‘A’ Level exams and one GCSE exams. 

When they are complete, my husband and I will be taking a good, long holiday!

Cathy Fava and her husband, Drew, have four sons. They belong to Cor et Lumen Christi Community 

Picture: Flickr/Walt Stoneburner


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