Matric exam stress does not only affect the Grade 12 learner, but their parents too. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA
Matric exam stress does not only affect the Grade 12 learner, but their parents too. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA

Parents this is how to get your child through matric final exams

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

Share this article:

The countdown for the 2021 matric final exams has begun with only seven schools days left, but the pressure is not only on the Class of 2021 but also their parents and guardians.

The Grade 12s have experienced a tremendous amount of pressure since their Grade 11 year which was also filled with challenges due to the pandemic.

The group of learners were forced to navigate their final years of schooling during a time of uncertainty, with school closures cutting short their class learning time. Needless to say, the world was panic mode.

Over the coming weeks, parents can be triggered by memories of their past exam experiences or consumed by their hopes and fears for their child.

A counselling psychologist and head of Student Services at Sacap (the South African College of Applied Psychology), Jogini Packery, says: “Parents have a pivotal role to play, but that may not be what you think it is. What is crucial to keep in mind is that your role is to empower and enable their best possible performance. You are not the driver, but the support team. As parents, we often feel like we always need to have the answers and are responsible for directing the action.”

Here are some tips Packery has for parents:

Effective communication wins the day

At the root of surviving the matric experience, and hopefully giving it wings, is open communication. It works best if parents can ask how their child wants to be supported, instead of assuming and deciding for them. Aim to do more listening than talking and try asking coaching questions instead of dispensing advice.

Different strokes

Parents of this digital-native generation can expect that the way their child approaches their studies may be quite different to how they tackled their own exam preparation. Sometimes parents can be too quick to jump in with advice drawn from their own experiences when this may not be relevant. Parents need to be aware of their impact and know when to pull back so that they don’t contribute to their child’s stress.

Setting the scene

There’s actually a lot that parents can do to promote conducive conditions for their child to study well and perform optimally in the exams. They can champion their child’s self-care by facilitating home life so that they can eat healthily, keep physically active and get sufficient sleep. They can make it clear that they are there for support, open to talking through anxieties and roadblocks – or helping their child access professional support if that’s necessary.

Promoting agility and resilience

Having a positive attitude towards matric studies and exams is not about pretending it’s all going to easy. There are inevitably going to be some rough times, no matter how thoughtfully parents are maintaining a conducive environment and good communications.

Packery explains that there are innate coping strategies that help us feel better in tough moments, but not all coping strategies return us quickly to a balanced state. Some coping strategies can lead us to being distracted or avoidant at a time when your child needs to get back on track as quickly as possible.

“Parents can provide essential support in helping their child to constantly re-evaluate what is working for them and what is not. Mental agility and flexibility are at the core of resilience. If something that your child is doing is not serving their purpose, then you can encourage them to set healthy boundaries and rewards,” says Packery.

Share this article: