PARENTING TODAY: June a time to dive into textbooks, not chores

Kenley, 17, is not cooking dinner tonight. Typically, she takes charge of cooking one night a week and tonight would have been the night. But not this week.

Her 15-year-old brother Brad has been freed from his regular chores as well.

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What’s going on? Simple. They are studying for their exams.

One way parents can help kids prepare for their final exams is to free them from their regular household responsibilities so they can focus on studying.

Giving them this break also gives the kids the message that you believe their schoolwork is important and you are available to help.

When I was in Grade 12, I had the perfect situation for studying for my final exams. I went to stay with my grandparents.

I am the oldest of six siblings and you can imagine that trying to bear down and study in a house with five other kids and two parents could be a bit of a challenge. So, I left for a few weeks.

To make things even better, my grandparents instinctively knew what I needed to make this a good experience. My grandmother had taught in a one-room schoolhouse and she must have harkened back to her memories of exams and the stress her students felt.

Or maybe, she was simply a wonderful, wise elder. Either way, I was the beneficiary.

Let’s face it, June is the final month of the school year and it’s also the most stressful. The higher the grade the student is in, the higher the stress levels. Final marks count, particularly if the student is planning on post- secondary studies.

Studying and writing exams is the job of the student. In fact, once kids are getting homework it’s theirs, not yours. Your job is to support them but not do their work.

Nagging and pushing will not work and won’t teach them how to take responsibility for their own education. But there are ways you can support them.

As we already mentioned it’s helpful to relieve them of their regular chores. Cook nutritious meals for them and have them sit at the table and eat properly. If they don’t eat well, they won’t be able to think properly and the time they spend studying just won’t be efficient.

Besides meals, bring them snacks while they work. Just slip in, put a drink or some fruit on the desk and leave quietly.

My wonderful Grandma would call me out of studying for lovely dinners and except for helping clear the table she expected me to continue to study after dinner, not do dishes.

While putting the emphasis on study, understand the need and value of some leisure to reduce the stress. It’s not a bad thing to take the occasional break. Watching a favourite TV show, going for a run, or chatting with a friend on the phone are positive, and not wasting time.

If you’re worried that she is going to watch TV all night a simple comment such as, “Taking a short break, eh?” is helpful.

When parents are bugging their children to study every second, they can easily go into their rooms and goof off. Many actually study far fewer hours than if they are allowed some breaks.

Studying is hard work. When they are tired encourage them to get enough sleep. All-night study sessions are not very healthy. Mind you, with the older kids it may happen and if it does just be supportive and caring.

Finally, remember you are there to support them but only they can decide to study. It’s their education and their exams so if they choose to goof off despite your support, they will have to deal with the outcome.

With your support they will do their best and can then enjoy the summer and look forward to the fall with energy and excitement.

Kathy Lynn is a parenting expert and author of Vive la Différence, Who’s In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home. parentingtoday.ca.

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