Monday, January 17, 2011

Final Exams Week - Advice

This week is final exams week for my sons’ school district. So, here’s my advice to parents on how to handle your kids during this week. (Or to parents of any age students who have tests throughout the school year.)


Our kids know they have tests. They know they have to study if they want to get a decent grade. The teachers tell them this. Their peers tell them this. They tell themselves this. The last thing they need (or want) to hear is their parents reminding them (ie., nagging them) to study.

Bugging our kids about studying (or homework) is like rubbing salt in the wound. It’s already painful enough (usually) for kids to buckle down and study (and do homework).

But, many parents fear that if they don’t urge them to study, maybe they won’t study and then maybe they’ll fail, or get a bad grade on a test. Yes. Maybe. And that’s ok. The point is that kids have to own their own work, their own study habits and their own grades. This is their deal, not the parent’s deal. The kids are in school, not the parents.

Parents should not worry about their kids when they have tests and finals (and homework). If you worry for them, they will sense your worry. I’ve heard many teenagers say something like this, “My mom means well, but she really worries too much about my grades and college, and she doesn’t realize how annoying this is and how it makes it harder for me.

Don’t give the impression that a student’s whole future depends on a certain score on a final exam - especially if your son or daughter is a junior in high school! Do you remember what scores you got on your final exams? I don’t. But I know they weren’t perfect, and I know I still had a future.

I’m not saying that you should refuse to help them if they ask for help studying. But don’t take over their studying. Or, maybe suggest they study with a friend or sibling if they ask you for help. They will probably get more out of peer studying than studying with you.

And, after the test, don’t ask them how they did. Don’t say anything. They will tell you how it went in their own time. Just ask them how their day was. Period. Let them do the talking, or do none at all. It’s ok. They’ve just hunched over their desks all day and are mentally drained and exhausted. Let them be. Don’t pressure them.

Just make sure they have a good meal and plenty of rest that night.

And, finally, turn off SchoolLoop or whatever electronic grading system your school uses. This tool is meant for middle and high school students to check assignments and grades. Resist the urge to check this daily. Let the students own this, too. Parents should just check it every couple weeks or if you suspect your child is having trouble at school.

Your turn. What advice do you have for parents of kids taking final exams?


  1. from a high school student: don't let them game all night the night before a test.

  2. I agree with you Kerry. Just make sure your kids are well fed and well rested (at least 9 and a half hours of sleep, for adolescents and 10 or more for younger kids).

    I would never let my kids stay up all night gaming - test or no test. Good advice.

  3. My college freshman son's biggest regret is that he didn't work harder in high school to get better grades. He did extremely well on the SAT, but that wasn't enough to make up for the good, but not great grades he received.

    He wishes he had listened to us, studied harder, and had a better shot at getting into a better college.

    I wish I could have blocked youtube, hulu, facebook and all the game websites.

    A parent's job is to parent.