Prepare well for exams – but still have a life!

Alexandre Zveiger

Jess can’t seem to get down to her revision.  Her teachers know that she is a capable student who has the potential to do well, but at this rate she’s not going to do as well as she could.  Jess finds revision boring and Facebook so much more attractive.  It’s not that she wants to do badly, she just can’t quite summon up the motivation to put the hours in.

We want our children to well in exams – their best hopefully.
The pressure to succeed is so high – there seem to be fewer routes from education into the world of work, and exams can seem to form a formidable gateway.
We don’t want to have to hassle them to study – it damages good relations.
We don’t want them to be too stressed – anxious – or unhappy.
We don’t want them to define their sense of worth on the results of these tests.
We want them to increase their choices by getting good results.

Anna feels defeated.  No matter how hard she tries she just can’t concentrate.  She reads the same passage over and over, none of it going in.  She knows she’s not going to do brilliantly but she’d like to at least pass them all.  None of the subjects interest her much, she’d much rather be playing in her band. She’s eating a lot of chocolate.  Anna goes for days without seeing her friends because she feels like she should be revising, and then goes out and stays out because she can’t face the books back home.

As parents we want to help our children through the intense exam period – but it’s not always clear how to help them to keep perspective, not to get too stressed, and still work hard.
How to maintain focus in the weeks of revision and sustain it in the exam period?
What to do on the days when it all seems impossible, or pointless, or hopeless?
Sometimes our children don’t find our input helpful; or don’t want it to come from us or their teachers.

Julie has always done well in school and she is expected to earn good results in her exams.  At the beginning of the year she drew up a revision timetable and she’s been sticking to it.  But she’s been having trouble sleeping, lying in bed worrying about not living up to expectations.  She’s feeling like she’s forgetting it as fast as learning it.  Anxious.  She’s lost her appetite and now she’s losing weight.  Secretly she quite likes this slimming down but her friends have noticed and are starting to say she’s too skinny.  The only time she really feels calm is when she is running on the treadmill at the gym – which she is beginning to do rather too often.  She’s so worried that she’ll do badly – anything less than straight As is going to feel like failing.  It doesn’t matter what her parents say to reassure her, she just doesn’t seem to stop worrying.

Luckily for me, I was good at exams.
I want to help girls to get through the experience without it costing their health or well-being.
In this workshop I help girls to:-

*  find their own motivation
*  figure out specifically how they learn
*  learn how to take care of themselves and their mental well-being

I do pass on a few tools and techniques to optimise a girl’s performance but mostly we focus on getting into the right headspace and finding balance, so she’ll be the best she can can.

Prepare well for exams
– but still have a life!

a two hour session of sane exam prep
with a small group of girls your age

limited spaces – book now

“Course I wanted to do well, but I couldn’t quite get down to my revision.
This motivated me but not with guilt.”

“I’ve got rid of that nagging feeling
like I should always be doing more work.” 

“Exams used to mean not being able to sleep, eating wrong, and feeling stressed
– it’s not so bad now.”

“This will be useful whenever I’m stressed out, not just at exams.”

“It was fun, even though it was about exams, it was fun.”

Who?      Teen girls
When?    Saturday 28th March, 2:30-4:30pm
Where?   Forest Row, Sussex
Cost?      £15

I am a trained facilitator, youth guidance worker, counsellor,
5 Rhythms movement teacher, and a mother of three.

To book or ask more: Kim  ☙

Rites for Girls exam support 2015

Photo: 123RF by Alexandre Zveiger

Posted on 12 February 2015
Musings: Parenting teenagers, Parenting girls
Tags: , , , , , ,

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Next ‘Girls Journeying Together’ group starting in the spring 2017



Free Trial Session for girls (with Mums)
on Friday 2nd March 2018, 5pm – 7pm
or Saturday 3rd March 10am – 12pm

Best Friends Forever

Every year around spring time, I start another of my year-long Girls Journeying Together groups.  A dozen or so 10-12 years olds sit in a circle in my sitting room nervously wondering how we will pass the afternoon.

We meet monthly, so they’ll get a sense of what monthly feels like, and we cover all manner of things over the year.  Their needs and concerns help to determine their year’s programme.  Over the year I provide the space for each girl to:

  • dream into her future
  • clarify her values
  • learn about the changes that puberty brings
  • discuss the pressures of peers, media, and parents
  • prepare for her first period and support one another in their bleeding time
  • get to know each other really well; well enough to dare to speak their innermost fears and heartfelt hopes
  • (only if the time is right) talk of dating, safe sex, diets, drinking, drugs, cutting, exam pressures and other teen concerns
  • share her experiences
  • laugh and cry and dance and feast
  • find mentors
  • and in time become a mentor herself.

A year later we finish with a celebration and those dozen girls are full of affection for one another and feel well-prepared for what lies ahead.

“At first I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s brilliant, we talk about things, really talk, so you realise that others feel the same way.”

“I’ve made friends for life I’d say.” 

“I was nervous about growing up – I’m not now.”

“You can ask anything.”

“We’ve had loads of fun, and learned stuff but it hasn’t felt like learning.”

“It got me thinking about who I want to be – what I want to do with my life.”

Every girl needs a circle of women, and the company of other girls, with whom to learn about womanhood.  Some girls are lucky to live in communities that naturally provide this female support.  Many girls are not so fortunate.  When families have busy lives, lived far from extended family, and children spend most of their time in the company of children, then a girls’ group can fill the gap.

I wish that coming-of-age groups were commonplace, then girls would expect it as their right, rather than needing their mothers to encourage them to try it out.

We focus on teaching our children algebra, tectonic plate movements, and what befell the wives of King Henry VIII, and then leave the fundamental issues of maturation up to chance chats with family, the modeling of soaps and films, and the immature influence of peers.  We give swimming lessons before diving into the sea, and driving lessons are mandatory before taking to the roads solo – so why not insist on structured adult support in the preparation of our children for adulthood?  Most religions and many tribes still recognise the importance of guiding our children safely towards adulthood, and offer them a rite of passage while they are actively engaged in this maturation process; but we have lost sight of it, blinded by the chase for qualifications.  I feel sad to find myself in a culture that often values grades, awards, and medals over relationships, and developing a healthy sense of self.

The more ‘developed’ we become, the more we abandon our teenagers and leave them to invent their own idealizations for adulthood – and to make their own markers to prove their adulthood (often using drink, sex, driving, and other risk-taking).


Girls look to the women in their lives to give them a sense of what it is like to be a woman.  The women they like, they emulate; and the women they don’t like, they strive to be different from.

Many girls find themselves with only one woman who knows them well, their own mother.  If fortunate, a girl will also have a smattering of aunties, grandmothers, godmothers, cousins, friend’s mothers and mother’s friends who know her and care for her.  She may also have a special teacher, tutor, or coach.  Even then, many girls rarely have the opportunity of hearing women speak of their dreams, their passions, their relationships and their bodies.  And yet, we want our girls to find their own futures, to know what is important to them, to discover what they love to do, to form firm friendships, and to like themselves well enough.  Too often seeking these vital goals are left to chance, or left in the hands of schools, or the influence of social media.


Rites for Girls has an free trial session for any girl aged 10-12yrs (in year 6 or 7) who might be interested to join the next Girls Journeying Together group.  Girls come from London, Brighton and all over Sussex and Kent.

Girls’ Journeying Together
– a year-long exploration
with a small group of girls your age

Who?      Pre-teen girls; aged 10-12yrs (in year 6 and 7)
When?    Monthly, 3 hours at the weekend, starting in May.
Where?   Forest Row, Sussex
When?    Free trial session with Mums:  5-7pm  Friday 2nd March 2018
or 10am-12pm Saturday 3rd March 2018

Provisional dates: TBC once school dates released

Friday group 4:30-7:30pm: 27 April 2018, 18 May, 15 June, 13 July, 14 Sept, 5 Oct (with Mums), 2 Nov, 30 Nov, 11 Jan 2019, 8 Feb, 8 Mar, 5 Apr 2019 (final celebration with mothers)

Saturday group 10am-1pm: 28 April 2018, 19 May, 16 June, 14 July, 15 Sept, 6 Oct (with Mums), 3 Nov, 1 Dec, 12 Jan 2019, 9 Feb, 9 Mar,  6 Apr 2019 (final celebration with mothers)

I am a trained facilitator, youth guidance worker, counsellor, 5 Rhythms movement teacher, and a mother of three.

To book or ask more contact Kim 01342 810505  ☙



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Photo: 123RF by Lisa Young

Posted on 9 May 2014
Musings: Parenting girls, Coming of age
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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Coping Well with Exam Stress

Standardized Testing in Education

Exams are on the way – for some it’s important exams – but actually for many students every exam feels important at the time.

Parents want to help, but the trouble is that a lot of the best tips for managing exam stress sound incredibly like the nagging we may have been doing for years – eat your greens, go to bed early, exercise, plan ahead, check your answers, don’t worry.

How we help our children to manage exam stress – or any stress – gives them tools for life.  

It is rarely a case of simply running through a useful check list, however.  Check lists are useful, but implementing them is not simple.  We know this from our own experience – or we’d all be well slept, exercised, fed, organised, stimulated, productive and relaxed!

As adults we also know that when we are stressed and overwhelmed, the best thing that can happen is if someone can take some of the load away.

Take some of the pressure off your teen.

Even though you may feel run off your feet, wherever you can and whenever she will let you, take on some of the pressure yourself.

You may feel that your teen is old enough to take responsibility for her own food, sleep, washing, planning, time management, exercise, organisation, perspective, and motivation – and perhaps normally she is, but exam-time isn’t normally.  Remember how much better you can cope in times of high demand when someone else shoulders some of your responsibilities.  Websites offering good advice to teens about how to cope with exams are plentiful – but this may not be an easy time for your teen to take it in, or put it into action.  So you do it.  Read the advice, scan the checklists, and trust your instincts about which pieces of information will be most relevant to your child.  Then get creative in how you can step in and help your teen to improve her exam coping skills.

Here are some examples, but you will need to tailor-make yours to suit you and your daughter:

*  Better sleep – buy her some epsom salts or lavender oil to add to a relaxing bath that you run half an hour before a sensible bedtime.

*  Improved diet – rather than fretting about her eating junk, fill her plate and your cupboards with appetizing treats that you do want her to eat (peaches, dried mango, cashew nuts, hot chocolate to replace coffee, her favourite dishes, boil her an egg for breakfast).

*  Motivation – especially if your child is having trouble motivating herself, know that your nudging or nagging will get her down.  Make it your job to notice when she does manage to study.  Give thought to what gets in the way when she doesn’t and how you could help.

*  Laundry – do hers: gather in the dirties, wash, dry, sort and put them away.  One less thing for her to do.

*  Water – fill her a water bottle for the day, and place a glass of water with lemon slice on her desk while she studies.

*  Exercise and breaks – offer to go swimming with her, or walk the dog, or to take her and her friends dancing.

*  Perspective –  Be aware of how you talk about exams – don’t make them sound as if they are everything Childline reports that kids feel that parents are often the source of unbearable exam pressure.  Be around to listen after an exam, don’t dwell on mistakes but focus on what still lies ahead, and suggest she avoid anxious or competitive talk with friends.

*  Take deep breaths when you’re stressed – let her see how that helps you to collect yourself.

*  Self-talk – make yours audible: “Oh help, this is impossible….No, I can do this, I can cope.”  or “I’m useless at this…. Useless? Not beat yet.”

You are not her slave and you can be her saviour.

Parents often fear that if they do too much for their teens, it will not teach them to take care of themselves.  At times of exam stress however, if you do more for your child, you lead by example, showing her ways of taking care of herself.  Initially you are doing it, later on she will.  Once the exams are over, she can return to helping more again; helping herself and you.

You might not have her full appreciation just now; so hold onto the knowledge that the majority of young women in their mid-twenties are full of praise for what their mother’s did for them in their difficult adolescent years.

Finally, if you’re getting stressed about her exams, then take heed of the checklists on how to manage exam stress yourself!

Photo: 123RF by Lisa Young
Posted on 17 April 2014
Musings: Parenting teenagers, Parenting girls
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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