Five ways to help kids stay calm during SEA 2020
Dr Hazel Othello, Director of Mental Health, Ministry of Health
Doing a pressure-filled examination like the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique task, considering the age of the students set to take the exam.
Psychologist, Dr Hazel Othello gave some advice to parents of children who’ll be taking the exam on Thursday, will a special focus on making sure the students are best equipped to handle the mental strain.
Maintain a routine
It may seem trivial, but the closer child is to a sense of normalcy, is the better their mental health will be, even on high-pressure days like SEA. Routine also means food. Despite the excitement, Dr Othello says now is not the time for new recipes or culinary challenges that could impair children on exam day.
Dr Othello warns against the temptation of cramming and quizzing. She believes that by this time, children should have a firm grasp on the curriculum. Any forced revision could put added pressure on the child, causing them undue stress and anxiety.
Children need to know that parents and guardians love and care for them regardless of the outcome of the exam. Dr Othello says words and gestures of reassurance and encouragement can do well to boost a child’s confidence before an exam. This also includes refraining from pressure-inducing conversations regarding school choice and expectations.
After the exam, it’s natural for students to have some anxiety on their performance. Dr Othello recommends that words are to remain positive in nature and level-tempered. This means that when they express anxiety, phrases like “everything will be okay” and “I’m sure you were great” are most helpful.
Do things they enjoy
This advice is also for after the exam. COVID-19 restrictions mean that many of the things children generally like to do may be off the cards due to safety concerns. Even so, Dr Othello recommends that parents and guardians do fun activities to get the child’s mind off the pressure of the exam.