Message from Scott Cowie, head, Senior Division
- Friday, Dec. 11– Wednesday, Dec. 16: FY-IB2 exams continue
- Wednesday, Dec. 16–Locker Clean-Out
I was speaking with a parent of an IB2 boy last week who was seeking advice on how to support her son through the very stressful process of preparing for, and the writing of, his December exams. According to her, her normally very “even-keeled” son had recently been showing signs of anxiety as the exam period drew closer. I imagine that many, if not most, parents of Senior Division boys could report similar observations, as exams for Foundation Year and IB1 boys started earlier today.
During this time, one thing to keep in mind is that stress is normal. In fact, Toronto psychologist Alex Russell, whom I’ve often quoted in these missives, would argue that stress is actually a vital part of the maturation process, as our kids need to experience appropriate levels of it in order to develop resiliency and healthy ways of managing stress in their lives. In a newspaper article from a few years ago, when asked a question about anxiety in adolescence, Russell said this:
“We live in a culture that requires a great deal of anxiety. It’s a future-oriented culture and anxiety is all about anticipation. We do need our kids to be able to take on a medium level of anxiety, at least some of the time, to be functional citizens.”
(Toronto Star, May 2012)
I realize that hearing that “some degree of anxiety is healthy” doesn’t necessarily help with supporting your son through the pressures he faces at this time of year, so I offer three practical points to ponder that I’ve gleaned from past conversations with senior students about their exam experience:
1) Prioritize: Focus on the most important tasks first; exams should be at the top of the list for almost every boy. Holiday socializing can take place once exams are over.
2) Prepare: Exam preparation should have been ongoing for a while, but be sure to set aside time to carefully plan for effective study sessions for exams. Doing so will build confidence and more peace of mind.
3) Perspective: Dwelling on what may seem like a poor performance on a particular exam will only hinder the performance of other exams. It’s important for your son to put forth his best effort for every exam, but once written, it is time to move on.
While the approach above can’t guarantee success, these tips may help guide you in conversations with your son.
Wishing all Senior Division boys all the best on their December exams.
Thanks for reading,