I have worked in children’s mental health services for the last twenty years. During this time I have noticed an increase in children and young people talking about the worry and stress of tests and exams at school. In particular over the last five years my service has observed a real spike in referrals around April and May. This exam season is for those just aged ten and eleven taking their SATs in primary school alongside most secondary schools who have end of year exams and of course GCSEs and A-levels.
I wanted to create a workbook that could be used in schools or homes as both a preventative approach across a whole school or year group and as a direct intervention for those experiencing exam stress. The approach of my previous workbook (Helping Kids & Teens with ADHD in School) was to guide young people through reflection and development of their current understanding and strategies. In ‘Supporting Kids & Teens with Exam Stress in School’ I have taken the same approach, encouraging young people to take ownership of the strategies and ideas. We all know that if we have played a key role in developing a strategy it is far more likely to be effective than if we are just told what to do.
Over recent years I have been providing an increasing amount of support to school staff for their own emotional wellbeing. Exam season is recognised to be stressful not only for young people and their families but also for those working in schools. The starting point of ‘Supporting Kids & Teens with Exam Stress in School’ is a chapter for the adults! This chapter encourages the adults supporting the young people to think about their own experiences with exams and also their own wellbeing. If you are supporting children and young people with their emotional wellbeing, you have to look after yourself first.
As a Clinical Psychologist I have integrated my training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with more holistic strategies such as mindfulness, healthy eating and sleep habits. I also have included a chapter for the family, many parents will ask me “what can I do to help?” The chapter ‘Family Support’ focuses on communication in the family and family stories around exams and anxiety. This allows everyone some guided reflection on their approach and an opportunity to make some changes.
In essence this book is for everyone during exam season: children and young people, their families and teachers and other school staff!
By Joanne Steer
Where can people find out more about the book?
The book is available online through Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Amazon, Waterstones, etc. You can also order it into your local bookshop if you prefer!
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