Yes it’s that time of year when the dreaded school exams come into play. I remember doing them myself way back in the day and just thinking about those moments turns my stomach somewhat. I never did enough work and therefore never achieved the results that I thought I deserved. This infuriated my parents which resulted in a lousy start to the Summer holidays. All in all a terrible few weeks of the year!
So after this period of 10 or so years from secondary school right through to graduating, I felt free as a bird when I got my first job and took a flatshare with my friends. Those days of cramming were well and truly over. Now I could go on holiday at any time of the year, and May and June were no longer meant for hiding away in my bedroom, but were full of the joys of Summer cavorting in the parks and barbecuing when the feeling took hold!
Another 10 -15 years on and enter (stage left) children! Yes I have been whisked back to the days of old again, except it’s now worse than I remembered. This time not only do I have to do the same amount of work (granted, maybe not to as high a standard but in meticulous detail nevertheless), but I then have to make sure that I force feed this information to my two children which is akin to actual force feeding, such is their distaste for knowledge of this kind. This makes for a very stressful May half term where I emerge as the bad parent who hasn’t allowed her children to have playdates or spend three hours a day on the X-box (because clearly, according to them all their friends do this and I am being very unreasonable) or indeed do anything apart from chain themselves to a desk and recite times tables or Latin conjugations 10 times a day. Sound familiar?
The thing is, whilst it is true that school exams are not supposed to be something to get overwhelmed by and the important thing is to work and play in moderation without burning the candle, in truth most parents want their children to do well. Of those parents, some will help their children during half term and some will leave them to get on with it although with children as young as 7 this would be quite difficult as the word ‘revision’ will be one which raises a few inquisitive little eyebrows, followed by bewilderment when it dawns on them that they won’t be seeing their friends every moment of every day during the holidays! Whilst it is important to get the balance right, it is also important to let your child understand that exams are just par for the course and they have to deal with them as part of their school life.
Unfortunately, just when you think you have got used to the annual exams, the pre-tests comes along to bite you in the proverbials. (or 11+, etc..) Now for me, these have been just a bridge too far. We have only just come out the other side with my son’s last interview being two weeks ago but the whole process started back in November last year. So to then expect him to sit school exams after a mammoth 7 months of preparing for tests and interviews, has understandably taken its toll…..on me!! Oh, he’s fine and has been fortunate enough to receive offers from a few schools but the stress I have gone through has aged me considerably – a process I know only too well will be back with a vengeance in three years when son number two has to sit!
Anyhow, as I write this, both sons are hours away from the end of exams – therefore to celebrate, I will be opening a bottle of bubbly in around the next hour as a prelude to another few bottles later in the evening! Yes, exams are over for another year – thank goodness. Here’s to a Summer of fun!