It's that time of year again. End of year exams.
It's a good time to be reminded about how the new system works, although "new" is now completing its 11th year.
The November exams aren't necessarily as important in the way they used to be in our day of School Certificate and bursary. Many students will have already achieved enough credits through internal assessment to be awarded their certificate, but they might now be working towards merit or excellence endorsements, or to meet requirements for tertiary education or for progressing on in the subject at school.
You'll also find that the three-hour session is not necessarily as pressured or gruelling as it used to be. Students might only be entered for a few of the standards being assessed. If that's the case, they could finish, for example, the one standard entered in its recommended time of, say, 60 minutes.
However, most will be entered for more than one standard and will usually spend the three hours in the room, as will students who have entered subjects for scholarship.
So it still can be a time of pressure and one where a little bit of family tolerance and understanding can eradicate some of the tension.
Hopefully, they have a quiet place that's relatively free of distractions where they're able to leave work set up so that time isn't wasted fussing around getting out and putting away books and notes.
Don't be too upset if the midnight oil is being burnt. Some people do study better later at night and it's probably quieter then anyway.
Good learning takes place in blocks of 30-45 minutes with a five to 10 minute break between. During this break encourage some light physical activity such as running the dog, making a drink, or having a shower, but not watching television or online activities, which can distract for much longer.
Alternatively, if they aren't taking breaks, quietly slip in with their favourite drink.
There may be some debate over background music. Teenagers today aren't used to total silence and can feel distracted or uncomfortable with it. Music also masks other household noises. However, some music is more appropriate than others. Encourage but don't make a fuss.
This is also one time of the year when you need to be a little lenient about chores, either reducing them in number or swapping for less time-consuming ones.
Finally, younger members of the family need to be aware that it is a time of stress, that it only lasts for two or three weeks and that the whole family can contribute towards a good outcome.
© Ian Munro 2012. All rights reserved.
- The Timaru Herald