I went to a pretty decent high school – it was newish, and we had 9 computers in our computer lab which was pretty good back in the day. We had final exams but I don’t really remember anything about mid-terms. Maybe we had mid-terms – it seems like something that one would do in high school. I don’t remember being especially concerned by any of them, and I know that my parents had no idea if there were exams. Mom and dad were working lots of hours and I think that they probably assumed that I knew how to study and would do so with some degree of accountability. However, they were wrong and all I had to district me was an old Nintendo and 19 channels on the 25″ television.
Flash forward to now – our eldest and her first encounter with mid-terms. She goes to a really good prep school with incredible instructors and conscientious classmates all of whom are on the fast track to colleges that I would have struggled to get into as an undergrad. She is so much better at studying than I ever was as a high schooler (and a grad student). She is dedicated and hardworking – she really immerses herself into her subjects and her instructors are generally thrilled with her performance. This is a blessing and a curse.
On the upside, she generally does (and desires to do) superior work. The flipside is that she over-stresses in studying. So, how do you support her enthusiasm without letting her get into the habit of over-stressing to the point that she burns out before she gets through her high school years?
- Begin with the end in mind. Set a study schedule with your student at the outset of the semester. You can look at the syllabus for the course and help your student plan her semester so that the studying is ongoing and there isn’t a frantic rush at test time.
- Studying should be a group activity. We read her first novel of the year as a group. Between our daughter and the two of us, we read Hemmingway together a little each evening. Then we discussed the meanings and questions inspired by the text. Again, it’s a little at a time instead of trying to digest the entire book in 2-3 sittings.
- Plan study breaks. She is going to need something to help her relax between exams, projects, and other big days at school. Whether it’s a dinner at a restaurant she picks, or maybe a girl’s night at the movies with mom!
- It takes a household! The more involved we are in her school and studying life, the more she knows that we value her education and expect her to achieve great things. We acknowledge the grades and celebrate the effort.
It can be hectic to get through life with a teenager under the best of circumstances, and the added stress of test time can make tempers shorter. So take a deep breath and remember it’s only a few days of testing. As grownups we have more tools to cope with stress, so open the toolbox and share with your student. We are all in this crazy journey together, and we are so proud of the young woman that she is and all that she has the potential to achieve!
How do you help your student stay focused? Do you study as a family? Let us hear your tips!