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How to get your matriculant safely through the exams

by | Parenting with Courage

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! Audrey Hepburn


“We’re almost there.” That’s what I sometimes tell myself as I try to figure out how to help my matriculant daughter make it through to the end of her exams.

Recently, a mom said that her anxiety continually rises when she thinks of her children and trying to help them finish this year, Covid-free. The challenge is that we don’t know what we don’t know and cannot control so many factors. For instance, the children your teen interacts with and who they have been around. The preparation and changes in exam timetables or valedictory plans. Is it virtual or in-person? The list can go on. But there are things we can control.

A reality checkStudent with backpack

In an excerpt from a statement released by the Western Cape Department of Education, it read: “Recently, the WCDH was alerted to a cluster of infections in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, emanating from a social event at a night club not related to school, which has affected some of our learners. The contact tracing teams identified 63 cases linked to one venue. 37 of these cases are matric learners from public and independent schools. The schools are liaising with health officials and ensuring that the necessary protocols are followed, and that parents and learners at the school have been informed. 

For a Grade 12 learner, the implications of missing a National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination are enormous. Should a candidate test positive for COVID-19, they will not be allowed access into examination venues and will not be allowed to sit for an examination for a 10-day period or until confirmation is received from a medical practitioner. This means that the candidate will only be able to complete their NSC in June 2021 (if that examination does indeed take place – as you know, it was cancelled this year due to Covid-19 lockdown). Given that we are just weeks away from the NSC examinations – is any social event worth it?”

Why do I write about this? For starters, it has the potential to affect many families negatively. But the primary reason is to combat fear.

Fear robs us of our joy for today and our hope for tomorrow.

When we give in to fear and anxiety, our stress levels skyrocket and our ability to think logically and clearly go out of the window. Also, our immune system will become compromised when our stress levels keep rising.

What are you thinking about?

Parents, be aware of the script going on in your brain and train your children to do the same.

You need not believe everything you think. Did you know that our habits travel 200 times faster than normal thought processes? Therefore, during tough times the most robust habit will win. That is why one often goes to unhealthy habits when a crisis hits. Our behaviour starts in our mind and during these uncertain times, guard your thoughts. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and right, and pure, and lovely. This concept comes out of Philippians 4, right after the passage, where we are urged not to worry. 

What narrative loops around and around in your head? In helping your children make it through to finish the year well, your thoughts will often determine the peace quotient in your home and life. After all, a transformation begins in your mind and with your thoughts.

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Paul, letter to the Romans. 

Ten ways to support our matriculants to get them safely through the exams.

By intentional parenting and making wise, life-giving decisions, we can reduce stress all around our home.

  1. Apply wisdom and discernment. Decide (as a family) what your boundaries include and how your going out and coming in can affect everyone.
  2. Take care to maintain sanitizing, physical & mental health. This means you would have to parent with compassion and care as you help your family navigate the exam season.
  3. Keep on taking Vitamin C and B (for your and your child)
  4. Look around you. Who needs a phone call, or an encouraging message.
  5. Be aware of the news, but screen it carefully and don’t give into fear-mongering
  6. Ask your child to let you know how you can better support them. A suggestion is to make a ‘study-box’ with treats to encourage them as they prepare for finals.
  7. Ensure that you all sleep well.
  8. Keep on exercising as that is an all-round feel-good stress buster
  9. Maintain a sense of humour in your home
  10. Breathe – and I mean it. Take some deep breaths.

What else would you add? I’d love to hear from you. Together, with prayer, love, support, kindness and wisdom, we can help our teens thrive and prepare them for life after school.

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