Recently, an article appeared in The Daily Mail in which it was claimed that because of the pressure of achieving top grades at GCSE or A Level, there are parents who are cancelling or postponing family holidays.
As a teacher and counsellor, I think this is a really bad idea. What would be much better is to continue with the planned holiday but to help the child use the break in a constructive way as time away from home is good for the entire family. But the basic rule is: Establish a routine.
Each day should include:
- fresh air or exercise
Whether it be skiing, swimming or walking around a city, the outdoor exercise is vital for a healthy mind and body. It gets the heart pumping; fills us with oxygen and the change in scenery is good for the soul. A bit of time away from the books gives the brain some time to consolidate and file away what it learnt the previous day.
Find the time of day when your child feels the most productive and work around that. Your child will know how many hours they can practically do in a day. The exam season is a long one. Avoid burnout!
- family time
Have meals out together or do anything else that will allow your child to unwind and relax. Your child needs it; you need it. Exams are stressful for everyone. Find ways to minimise that stress.
- a good night’s sleep
The brain needs sleep to send what has been learnt into long-term memory.
A parent once asked me how to make the most of a week in the Alps. This was my plan:
- have a good breakfast in time to hit the lifts for about 9.30s
- ski till lunchtime
- family lunch together
- pupil aims to get home for about 3
- at the books for 4
- spend about 3 hours working
- family dinner
- bed by 10
- be flexible and allow time for him or her to do their own thing as well
It was a week away in a 3-week holiday. 3 hours a day is plenty and the pupil ran ramp it up slightly on the return home.
But please do not cancel a holiday. Rather find ways to turn the holiday into part of the exam season. I will refer you back to the earlier blogs about preparing for the exams. You need to prepare and experience the exam season as a family. But parents need to be as relaxed as possible. Your child will feel your tension and that will make him or her more stressed. Having some time away – even a weekend break – can do you all wonders.