The end of final exams is a liberating time for students. It’s when school finishes and summer begins; a well-deserved break from the stresses of revision and coursework. The start of the summer holidays are a time for relaxation and reflection. However, with six weeks off, we also need to ensure that students don’t neglect learning completely. Whether they’ve just completed their A levels and are heading to university, or going from GCSEs to sixth form, it’s important for students to maintain their learning skills after the exam season and throughout the summer break.
So, what can students do after exams to ensure they’re ready for when September rolls around once again?
Things to do after exams
Take a break
First of all, it’s time to take a breather. Students work extremely hard for an extended period throughout exams, so allowing them a week or so to unwind and relax is vital to their wellbeing. With prolonged stress, long study hours and the draining nature of exams in general, taking some time off from studying is a healthy way to reset the mind. It also ensures we don’t pressure students too heavily into maintaining study habits. By being too rigid in our efforts to maintain students’ work habits, it’s possible to overwork them.
Sir Richard Steele once said, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”. Studies have shown that reading a good book keeps us mentally nimble and ready to learn. It also improves literacy skills and reading comprehension which we know are key skills in all forms of career or further education. This approach also gives students the freedom of choosing something that actually interests them. No stuffy textbooks or assigned reading, just books that genuinely interest and engage them. The improvement of their reading skills will likely open a plethora of new independent learning opportunities in the form of informative books.
Form a routine
Forming a ‘light learning’ routine helps students to maintain a healthy relationship with education and their own personal development. It’s therefore helpful to encourage students to make learning a part of their summer routine so they can continue to develop without seeing it as a chore. This could be as simple as reading regularly, playing Sudoku or taking advantage of their free time to visit museums or historical sites.
This routine will also prove useful when students continue on to either university, sixth form or into their career as a part of their personal development. The benefits of continuing to learn after finishing school are plentiful: boosting career progression, keeping the mind sharp and improving mental health.
Take up a sport
Encouraging your students to partake in stress-relieving activities is a great way of getting them to unwind and stay healthy. Yoga, running, meditating and boxing can all help students to unwind properly and fully recover from the mental strain of exams. Exercise also improves mental wellbeing and greatly reduces the risk of developing depression or other mental health issues associated with stress. Making exercise part of a regular routine can help students both mentally and physically, especially over the summer holidays as they look towards new beginnings or another school year.
Spend time with animals
Spending time with animals has been proven to lower stress levels and help children and young adults to relax. In a survey of pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership and 75% of relatives reported mental health improvement in family members who had recently adopted a pet. If you don’t have a family pet; visiting relatives or friends who do can have the same effect as can visiting animals on a petting farm or using apps like Borrow My Doggy.
A post-exam treat
Being rewarded for effort during the exam season is great positive reinforcement for students. Showing that their hard work will be rewarded will encourage them to engage more in academic work, as well as improving their work eithic. Rewards could be anything from a little money, a visit to a theme park or even a family summer holiday. Doing something fun helps students unwind in the transition between the end of exams and the summer holidays.