Exam time can be stressful for children, and their families. This can be especially true of older children, who face more exam pressure, and the knowledge that their performance could have a big impact on their future. Things can be even more difficult for children in care, who might have had an unsettled education, with gaps, school moves and other challenges. As a foster carer, you’ll want to support the children in your care to do their best in their exams, without piling on any extra pressure. Here’s a look at some of the things that you can do to help them to prepare.
Be Their Advocate
Before exam time comes along, it’s important to consider any extra support your foster children might be entitled to. If you foster through a therapeutic agency such as ISP Fostering, the child might have additional needs, which could entitle them to extra help and support during their exams. Speak to your foster child, your support worker, and the school to find out if and how their needs are being met, and don’t be scared to speak out if you are worried that they aren’t.
Know What to Expect
Uncertainty is something that adds plenty of anxiety to the exam period. Children who have been at a school for years have probably sat other exams there. They’ll have at least a rough idea of where they’ll need to go, how they’ll sit, and any rules that are in place. If your foster child is new to the school, they might not have any idea what to expect.
Finding out as much as you can help you to help them. Speak to teachers and other parents who have faced it before and encourage your foster child to ask questions.
Create a Productive Routine
Younger children might want you to help them with revision, tests and reading, but older children might prefer to go off and study alone. Either way, having a family routine with screen time rules (that you all stick to) mealtimes, bedtimes, relax times and plenty of time scheduled to study, will make it much easier for them.
Most of us are most productive when we work in short bursts, and this is certainly true when it comes to exam revision. Staring at the same piece of text for hours is never a good idea. Instead, schedule or encourage regular breaks for snacks, exercise, or a walk outdoors.
Talk to Them
One of the biggest pressures around exam time comes from feeling as though we’ll let people down. Make sure your foster child knows how proud of them you are. Tell them you are proud of them for studying and preparing, and that you’ll be proud no matter what happens.
They may have some questions about what will happen if they do badly in their exams, so try to put their mind at rest with realistic backup plans and options. Make sure they know that they’ll always have options and that it won’t be the end of the world while encouraging them to try their best.
Exams can be very stressful, so try to be patient with them. Expect the odd mood swing and try to make allowances, while promoting positivity.