A teacher places a number on the desk for the SEA exam at Newtown Girls’ RC School on Maraval Road, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

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The six-month roller-coaster ride for both parents and children writing the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam ends today when 19,000 children write the SEA exam.

The examination, originally scheduled for Thursday, April 2, was postponed to today August 20 because of the spread of COVID-19.

Schools were closed and the government took a decision on July 20 to allow primary schools to open their doors for the 19,000 SEA students and their teachers, to facilitate preparation for the examination.

Eleven schools were closed due to COVID-19 scares, after nine children, including four SEA students tested positive for the virus.

All schools were cleared on Tuesday ahead of the exams.

Many parents are concerned that because of the community spread of the virus their children may be at risk.

But social worker, counsellor and part-time parenting educator with Families In Action, Alsoona Boswell-Jackson assured there is no need to worry. She said the increased anxiety that parents and children were feeling, was a relevant emotion at this time, particularly because of the pandemic, an increased infection rate in the country and all the adjustments that have come with it.

However, she advised against excessive worry, saying it could only be disruptive as many were worrying about something that they could not influence or control.

“Realistically, there are things that we can control and there are others that we cannot. We cannot control the fact that Covid-19 is with us and will be with us for a very long time into the future. We cannot control the fact that the SEA exams are on and our children must sit this national requirement for entry into secondary school” said Boswell-Jackson.

She noted that parents should act as facilitators and comforters as children were already feeling anxious about their performance in the exam.

Boswell-Jackson added that children look to their parents for inspiration and much of their emotional status depended on parental support. As role models, she advised, parents too, must deal with their stress and help their children handle exam stress effectively. This she said would come with a change in mindset.

Boswell-Jackson offered tips to parents and children on how to manage today’s SEA exam.

Let’s prepare together

• Your children are very resilient beings and they can be very understanding as long as you speak to them calmly. Reinforce the do’s and don’t’s at this time.

• Encourage them to voice their anxieties, fears, concerns, excitement or whatever emotions they may be feeling and you treat with each one maturely and compassionately.

• Reassure your child of your love and affection constantly ensure that your child knows that he/she is loved regardless of the outcome of this exam.

• Let them know that you are their number one supporter and that there is life after this exam. They must know this fact as it gives them an extra burst of confidence and encouragement to go into the exam room

• Ensure that your child gets adequate rest in a calm environment. Avoid loud noises or music and absolutely no devices in the bedroom before bed. It is important to rest the brain so that all that was prepared before will not be cluttered before the exam.

The morning of the exam

• Awake early to prepare, so that you won’t be rushing.

• Pray with your child for all the good things that you want to prevail. When you speak it into the atmosphere, it will manifest.

• Ensure that you have all that you require so that you do not leave any essential behind.

• Ensure that your children are equipped with their masks—a now necessity. It will also give you the parent peace of mind. However, please ensure that the masks are not too tight and are breathable and comfortable for your child. Remember exams bring a level of anxiety and possible panic so that you want to ensure that breathing does not become laboured.

• Ensure that your child washes their hand before and after the exam and calmly explain to them that while they may be happy and excited to see their friends after so long, they are not allowed to congregate and hang out after the exam at this time.

• Remain calm. Even though you may not be feeling calm, “fake it” and transfer this feeling of calm to your child. If you stress out, they’ll stress out even more—it is that simple. So, it is very important to try your best to hold your stress inside and if need be, talk to another adult about it.