Suggestions For Helping your Student Survive Finals
Finals are hard. We all remember them. Some of us studied in advance, some of us stayed up the night before writing papers. Some of us thrive during finals, some (most?) of us feel like walking zombies, barely emerging to see the light of day until it's all over. One thing for sure is that our teens are feeling it. Whether they are prepared or not, there are some things you can do to encourage them during finals. These are just suggestions from what I've heard from teens over the years. Not a play-by-play, but something to think about as you head into the battle royale that is finals.
1. Assume they have a study plan and ask them what it is. Use a curious tone, not a condescending one. Then, ask how you can help. If they give you a suggestion, then follow through.
2. Try your best not to add to the pressure. High School students are under an enormous amount of pressure by society, teachers, colleges, and parents. Everyone is well meaning but it piles up for them. Finals is a time to encourage and let them know they aren't a total failure if they get a B+ on their Chem Honors test. They will most likely still get into college, and they need to be reminded that you love and care about them even if they fall short. Reassuring them can help focus and reduce test taking worries.
3. Remember: it's their life, their grades, their college. If they want to get bad grades, it's okay to have a discussion about that, brainstorm study strategies, offer help, and try to understand the situation. These are all good things, but they are not a direct reflection of you. You are responsible to keep them alive and you're doing way more than that so you're already succeeding. So, stay focused on the things that matter to you as a family (values, morals, character, etc), and insofar as you can help, help, but let the rest go. It's their grades and to date I haven't met a single teen that "wants" to fail (even though sometimes it seems like it).
4. ENCOURAGE ENCOURAGE ENCOURAGE. Tell them the things they are doing well. Give them a break when they want to sit and stare at the wall for 30 minutes instead of cleaning their rooms. Finals are exhausting, they are tired and often incredibly stressed. During this time, do your best to focus on the "big" stuff, and let all of the little things go. There's always a time to start a conversation about these things after finals.
5. Snacks. Keep their favorite snacks around, they'll need fuel. If you can, prepare snacks and deliver them to their room. if not, that's okay, they know where to find all of their favorite goodies :)
Most of all, ask them. Ask them how you can support them during finals and then do that. That is way more important than anything I, or anyone else, has to say. If they feel like you're in their court, then they will be prepared for anything.