6 months ago
Phakama matriculants in Philippi East, Cape Town,
Phakama matriculants in Philippi East, Cape Town, last year. Photo by Lulekwa Mbadamane  ~ 

SPARE a thought for all the pupils going back to school this year to their first day of that dreaded event, Grade 12.

If you have such a person in your life, here are 9 ways of supporting him or her as they tackle that high stakes, exam-ridden last year of school:

1.  Be patient and understanding by providing your 12th grader with silence, private space and support while s/he studies. It is a good time to encourage silent reading in the family in support of the matric student. Family arguments should be taken outside – avoid sources of additional stress, like conflict, as much as possible.

2. Have loads of healthy ”brain food” snacks around the house for her or him to munch on such as bananas, chocolate, fresh fruit and vegetables, watermelon, wholegrain bread and cereals, unsalted nuts and fresh water.

3. Invite your student to exercise with you during study breaks. Walk the dog or encourage your teen to join in a family dance/sing-along.

4. Take the pressure off as much as you can. Students tackling matric need support, patience and understanding. If there’s a difficult problem needing to be solved, help him or her brainstorm a solution. One of the messages you should reinforce is: even if he or she fails the exams despite their best efforts, it is not the end of the world. There is life after matric.

5. Be aware of signs of depression, negative self talk, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, changes in your student’s personality, and behaviour such as withdrawing.  If you’re worried, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 20 50 26 or the suicide hotline on 0800 567 567.

6. Sleep is vitally important for a student to be able to concentrate in an exam, so spending nights studying is not going to help. Encourage your student to get eight hours of sleep.

7. Teach your 12th grader the power of positive thinking and visualisations. Positive self- talk and creativity may help him or her through a difficult paper.

8. Provide practical support in the form of tutors, study guides, study groups, and assistance from teachers. Even at the last minute a session with a good tutor or teacher can be the deciding factor.

9. Remember to celebrate even the smallest success with your matric candidate, looking forward with optimism and enthusiasm. 

Good luck to you all! 

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