Countdown to Leaving Cert- Stress Busting and Performance Enhancing Tips

IrisAre you noticing increased stress levels in your teen? Are you aware of a change in their mood? Is their sleep interrupted? Are you getting anxious? Perhaps, your teen is distracted, not working enough or on the other hand working too much? It is the first of May and there are about seven weeks to the Leaving Cert.

In order to make maximise these last few weeks and to reduce the stress levels, encourage your teen to follow these tips:

• Commit for the final few weeks to give it your best shot. It is also a time to revisit and consider your choices carefully.

• Have a back-up plan or insurance option. Look at access courses, Post-Leaving Cert courses. Consider taking a year out to work and gain experience if you don’t feel ready for college. Not everyone has to go to college. Therefore, consider apprenticeships and more vocational routes offered by your local Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

• Many Colleges of Further Education and ETBs have open days, interviews and enrolment at this time of year.

• Know that the Change of Mind option on CAO kicks in from the 5th of May until the 1st of July. Revisit your CAO form and make sure that you are happy with all of your choices. They need to be in your genuine order of preference. The Change of Mind function allows you to change your mind more than once and make adjustments. There is no fee. Remember to keep a record of your submissions. Bear in mind that Restricted Courses follow different criteria.

• The SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) grant application system has opened. Applications can now be made online and are subject to supporting documentation. See Susi has a Support Desk call 0761087874 if you require more information or assistance. Check each College and University website and see what scholarships or other financial supports that are available.

• If you have made a UCAS application (UK College Application System) you must reply to any offers in early May or they will be declined. Please check the UCAS website.

Preparation Tips for the Exams For Leaving Certs 2015-Remind Your Teen Read The Following:

• Commit for the final few weeks to give it your best shot. Set yourself a goal; visualise it; make it crystal clear in your mind and aim for it. Say to yourself that you can do it.
• Ensure you PLAN when you are going to study. Create a timetable. Be strategic. Look at each subject and the main topics. Consult previous papers. Organise your notes, use spider grams or Mind Maps, record cards or use colour coding. Avoid distractions like mobile phones and the Internet. Switch the phone off or put it on silent mode.
• Make sure you drink one and half to two litres of water daily. The brain needs water to function properly. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks. Sugary foods and drinks will cause a spike in your energy followed by a crash in your energy.
• Maintain good posture. Stretch when you can. Do some simple shoulder rolls, neck stretches and arm and finger movements. During this time of year, Leaving Cert students can suffer from sore backs and tension in the upper body. Tightening of the muscles can reduce blood flow and supply to the brain. This can affect concentration.
• Remember to breathe deeply. Sometimes, when we are stressed we can panic and experience short breaths. The body and brain requires oxygen to operate at an optimum level. Deep breaths reduce anxiety.
• Get regular light to moderate exercise weekly. Exercise is the greatest stress buster and energy giver. Get to bed at regular times, as sleep is crucial to optimum brain function.
• Eat healthily. Make sure that you increase your protein, fruit and vegetables as well as incorporating plenty of good fats into your diet e.g. nuts, seeds, fish, fish oils, and olive oil. Good fats act as lubrication to the brain. Avoid alcohol. At this time of year, a good multivitamin as well as an iron supplement for some teenage girls may be advisable.

Remember, this is the final countdown and the last few weeks at school. It will all be over soon. Encourage your teen to build a picture in their mind of their ideal future, lifestyle and work to remind themselves that the hard work will be worth the cost.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist and scientist

Your teen’s positive approach in these next few weeks will boost their chance of success.

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