Saturday, March 6, 2010

Exam fear/fever

Around me this season, I see most parents of primary school children rushing home early from office or in extreme cases even taking leave. They call all old relatives from their native places to pitch in for help. No weekend outings, cable connection removed, pulling stops over all extracurricular classes for children like music, drawing, table tennis, dance etc. Parents sporting tense looks and avoiding social get-to-gethers, hurried shopping etc. The small play area and driveways where children play are wearing deserted looks.

Any guesses what’s in the air?

Yes, it’s exam time. So the whole family sits and studies with no break/recreation. I admire the way they love and care for their children. But……….

The whole year has been spent without any methodical approach towards the studies. Finally when it is the exam time the family lays extra stress on the child and fixes a target percentage for the child in the exam which instead of helping puts unwanted pressure on the child and they too get pressurized. These stress levels cause mental and memory blocks along with loss of appetite and less energy level. After the exams are over, there is a sigh of relief as though they are back from a victorious war. I was surprised when I was told by my family physician that a 16 year old student was popping pills for Blood pressure.

Why should not everything be normal during exam times too? If one puts continuous and consistent efforts throughout the year, eats wholesome breakfast, goes regularly to school with an alert mind, concentrates in class and comes home to recall all that is done and correlates it with real life and visualize wherever necessary it gets embedded in your memory. It is further strengthened by the child’s homework. But in most cases, during school days parents themselves wake up late, on most days the children even miss their regular school since they had a late night , ( parents could be gold medalists/great scientists but when it comes to teaching , there is no alternative to classroom teaching hence it is very important for children to attend school regularly). No time to prepare/eat breakfast, the child drinks just a glass of milk, has some biscuits/chips with a tetrapak milk for lunch.

How can the mind be alert when your stomach is empty? Result - no concentration in the class and they come back home to have a hurried lunch and hop from one tuition class to another with absolutely no time to play or to pursue a hobby.

Will it not stress the child and in many cases even parents? The very thought of all these triggers the stress hormones.

Thinking skills, analytical skills, general problem solving capacities, decision making – the essential results of a good education come only when the child is independent and starts thinking and working on his own. We as parents and teachers should only offer time, space, nourish, nurture and guide the children. Apart from school where of course the base work is done. Let us encourage children to socialize, discuss among peers and friends so that there is flow of information.

A child learns and discovers better when he goes in search of knowledge. Instead of spoon feeding the child in the name of helping him, he could go in search of information. I feel this would be a better way of learning. I know a parent who does the entire project work for her child while the child is playing happily outside unaware of his school project work. The project is in good shape and he gets an A+ at school. But how much has the child learnt here?

Some parents admit their children in the so called techno schools. Here they coach you to be the future IITians/technocrats/professionals and the training starts as early as 6th standard. These techno schools have no playground they look like corporate offices (from outside) and offer no extracurricular activities. They lay more emphasis on finishing the syllabi within the stipulated time, memorizing rather than understanding concepts. Perhaps, that is why the tension because while you memorize your train of thoughts gets derailed when you forget even one word. If they have not cracked IIT prelims after all these training, The students behave as though they have lost everything in life at the age of 16/17. The situation would be pathetic, if they did not have sympathetic and loving parents.

Let us accept our children as they are. Let all the creative juices flow during exam times. It is an outlet for them to relax. In fact, it is proved that children who relax through creative art ,music , sports etc perform better in academics. Music, art and sports are supposed to activate both the cerebral halves(right and left) thus aiding your logical,creative and intellectual skills. Let our children face their exams with utmost confidence pumped from us. Let us learn to love our child with their failures. Last but not the least, Let us not have expectations from our child. Let us give them unconditional love and allow them to enjoy their childhood. As long as the child is clear with the basic concepts it is fine even if he is a B grader. Sometimes children lose marks due to carelessness.

Let us help them to enjoy their academics and childhood and let us also enjoy the exam times.

P.S: The above observations are based on my surroundings. It may not be applicable everywhere and cannot be generalized.


  1. awesome post, asha!

    //Why should not everything be normal during exam times too?//

    exactly asha! it will really get rid of all the unnecessary tension in the family environment and makes the child to be at ease during exams. but we are still very very far away from getting to this 'normal' state!

    //the essential results of a good education come only when the child is independent and starts thinking and working on his own.//

    yessssss asha! well-said. children shld be let to explore the world on their world. and yes grades are impt in today's society. cos that's how society/world/working force give credits to a child's ability. the truth is that grades or marks are not the true measure of a kid's intelligence. if we can truly understand this, i guess we can reach the 'normal' state soon!:)

  2. well-said , asha :)

    in fact i recently remarked to a friend that if an outsider saw my son, he would have no clue that he has his final exams going on..he goes down to play his normal 2 hrs down, he sleeps at the usual time, and he says he is quite prepared for the exam...i believe him too :)

  3. @ smashing - Thanks for sharing my thoughts. Hope we parents of this generation try to bring the change.
    @suma - Thanks suma, My son & daughter are also the same. I have not stopped any extra curricular classes and outings happen too. Let ur son enjoy, It was clear from your latest blog that he is a smart boy.He applies intelligence that is what is needed in today's world.

  4. Good one
    very well thought out and comprehensive post.

    It made me analyse my own Parenting style....
    consistency is the key word here...
    Both for the parent and the child....

    I have a slightly different experience to share in that children are also affected by environmental changes/ emotional changes...

    as my husband is in a transferable job...I find every transition and subsequent approach to studies alters with the kind of peers my kids have...
    As you have very well highlighted here..balance and a consistent approach is very awareness of change and an ability to flow with and integrate with the change..
    Thanks...great post!

  5. Totally shocked to learn about 'techno schools'..OMG!
    What really matters is the attitude of parents. What do children know?! I feel really sorry for the kids in techno schools.

    Nice post.

  6. @ preeti, yes, techno schools exist. I too feel sorry for these children who alight from the school busses at around 7.p.m to reach home.
    @ ssstoryteller, Thanks, hope you are planning for your program?

  7. Well written.Yes I agree with you. The trouble is comparison and expectations.

  8. nice writeup..semmaya cover panni ezhuthirukeenga