There are 5 ways you can help your college kid survive finals week. Be prepared. It happens EVERY semester. You child will call all stressed out. They will tell you the sky is falling and they are about to fail out of life and become a gas station bathroom attendant. DON’T PANIC! This is completely NORMAL! Finals week is always stressful for students. So how do you help them? The answer is BE PREPARED and PLAN AHEAD! There are 5 simple things you can do to help your college kid SURVIVE and THRIVE during college finals week.
5 Ways YOU Can Help your College Kid Survive Finals Week:
1. STAY CALM
Staying calm is critical to helping your child survive finals week. They will feed off your reaction to them. If you fall into the trap of responding with the same frantic, panicked tone, you will feed the frenzy. Stay calm and have them take some deep breaths. Reassure them this is completely normal and that every student is feeling the squeeze even if they don’t show it. Then walk them through some of the following strategies to help them stay calm and come up with a strategy for success.
2. Encourage Them to Make a LIST (Strategy for the WEEK)
The MOST important thing your college student should do in times of stress is organize their thoughts and “to-dos.” Have them take out a piece of paper and write down everything that has to be completed and the schedule of their finals. Then help them put together a rough schedule of what needs to happen and when. Each day have them focus on JUST THAT DAY’s list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a mountain of work that needs to be completed in a week. BUT, the mountain seems smaller when you break it down into smaller pieces.
3. Suggest Stress Breaks
If you’ve never been in the pressure cooker that is finals week, you need to know one thing. RELEASE THE PRESSURE! Your student may be experiencing this level of stress for the first time. You have to help them learn to release the pressure so they can re-focus on the tasks at hand. There are many ways to do that. I recommend 3 different types of stress breaks during finals week. You student will benefit from using all three throughout the week.
a) Quiet Time (30 mins – 1 hour) – This can be taken anywhere that is truly quiet. They could take a walk, go sit in a quiet coffee shop or even take a short drive. It can be anywhere that is quiet. Encourage them to leave their phones in their backpack or in the car so they can totally unplug. A short quiet time is perfect for clearing their head so they can refocus on what is needed next. If you are a person of faith, this is perfect time for prayer and reflection too.
b) Stress Break (15 – 20 mins) – These breaks are just meant to be FUN! Push the books aside every few hours and have FUN. These are often done in group study times. These are the moments your child will enjoy and remember. Silly games, laughter, jokes, pranks, dares, food etc are all common for these short stress breaks.
c) Power Breaks (3 -5 mins) – These power breaks are just to help re-energize your student in the middle of a long study session. PUT all tech down (no cellphones, computers, TV, etc). Just deep breaths, stretching and a quick snack. Limit these to 3-5 minutes for a quick pick-me-up.
4. Make Sure They are Eating REAL MEALS
Often long hours of last minute assignments and studying a full semester of learning leads to lots of snacks on the go. However, eating healthy meals will give them more energy and help them feel better while they are studying. It may not always be possible, but encourage them to eat at least one good meal a day.
5. Send a Survival Pack
Every student LOVES to get a package from home. Finals week is the MOST important time to send one. What can you include?
Finals Survival Pack Suggestions:
- FOOD – Students may eat at odd times during finals week. Include some of their favorite snack foods. Also include healthy choices like fruit, trail mix or microwave popcorn.
- Gift Card for a favorite restaurant
- Homemade Treats
- Highlighters, pens, pencils
- Flash Drive – for quick printing or turning in projects
- Bubble wrap – Yep the PERFECT stress reliever
- Bottled water
- Silly game or toy like Legos – As crazy as this sounds, when you are tired sometimes a quick distraction is EXACTLY what you need
- BIG Tote bag, Duffle Bag or Backpack – They may be carrying more than normal back and forth for study sessions during finals week. Make it easy for them,
- ENCOURAGING NOTES FROM HOME
College Finals Week is stressful, but can be a lot of fun and a chance for personal growth. Be available to listen, calm and love. Show encouragement and remember to CELEBRATE with them when finals are over!