Asking the Right Questions

Coeducation is education for life. Naturally

Exam Talk

“Exams”: a word that can strike fear and traumatic flashbacks into the heart of even the most confident of us! We all remember them, and the doubts, the fears, the hopes and the nervous anticipation that went along with them. All Saints’ College is pleased to present a five-part series that focuses on exams, with some tips for parents and students on how best to manage what can be a challenging time.

As parents, it is important that we strive to maintain open communication with our teens throughout this exam period.

Supporting our young people during the exam period includes asking the right questions to ensure that our children are on track with their studies, while also initiating conversations and demonstrating our understanding of the feelings they may be facing.

We want to know how they are coping, but choosing our timing wisely is important when leading conversations.

Open-ended questions are a great way to initiate discussion with our teens – they enable space while also helping our young people to feel supported. Questions may include:

“I know this is a really busy time for you, and I’m just wondering how you are managing everything?”

We can continue to be curious, even if the answers are short. For example:

“What are you finding is working well with your revision?” or, “What has been most challenging for you in your preparation?”

Listening to our teen’s responses reassures them that we’re not judging nor controlling their problems. And then, instead of offering personal suggestions, perhaps first ask:

“What do you think you could try that’s different?” or, “Who could you ask about that?”

Only after hearing their list of ideas and things they have tried, should we then look to offer some advice.

Asking for permission first is a good way to avoid a defensive response from our teens. Here, we can help our young people come up with a plan of action so that they continue to take ownership of their study and exam preparation, while feeling supported in the process.

Finally, we need to try to stay as well and stress-free as we can, too: a parent’s health and wellbeing are just as important.