Saturday 5 December, 2020

Tips to help parents and students get through exams amid COVID-19

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Exams are stressful for both parents and children.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across Trinidad and Tobago have been closed.

Exam dates were postponed and rescheduled.

Children were forced to adapt to online classes and the many changes to their daily routines.

One psychologist is offering tips to both parents and students to cope during these unprecedented times.

Speaking at the Ministry of Health's virtual media briefing on Wednesday, Counselling Psychologist at the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA)Camille Campbell noted that a lot of changes have occurred within a short space of time.

She stated that for children this may be a lot to process and understand.

Campbell noted that some children may be under a lot stress and urged parents to ensure that their children get the right information about COVID-19.

"Children, you may probably be feeling anxious, sad or uncertain. These feelings are normal. You may be feeling stressed with things that are happening at home, worrying about if anyone in the family may get sick or uncertain about the future. One way to deal with stress about COVID-19 is to be informed. Parents, ensure that your children continue to get the right information about COVID-19."

She noted that with the closure of schools, children are facing unprecedented changes.The psychologist therefore urged students to create a routine.

"Your classes may now be online. You may be home missing your friends and finding it difficult to study. When we are stressed it is hard to stay focus. We may get angry easily. We can't sit still. We may have difficulty sleeping. We may feel worried, tend to cry or have changes in eating. How can we deal with this? We can focus on how you feel. Pay attention to what is happening in the moment and try to give full attention to what you are doing. It is important to have structure and organisation. Create a sense of normalcy and routine. You can have a timetable."

Campbell advised parents to discuss the changes as it relates to returning to schools.

" You can discuss with them any new changes that might be taking place at school such as the social distancing and handwashing. These changes are there to protect them. Allow them to share how they feel."

Noting that exams are very stressful, she urged parents to remain calm and to provide support to their children.

"Children tend to learn and react in part to what they learn from the adults around them. If you deal with the situation calmly and confidently, you will find that you are giving the best support to your children."

For those students writing the exams, she urged them to give it their "best shot." The psychologist also encouraged students to be patient with themselves.

"You are in a situation that is quite unprecedented so it is understandable if you feel stressed, overwhelmed or unmotivated...Yes, these exams are important but they don't define your live or who you are."

She added that the deep breathing technique can be used when stressed.Young children can do deep breathing by lying on their back and placing a stuffed animal on their tummies.

The psychologist also urged parents to practice self care.

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