SEA exam

SEA exam: 5 tips for stressed-out parents

The pressure is on for children around ages ten to twelve and their parents in Trinidad and Tobago as they face the upcoming ‘tournament of doom’ in April known as Secondary Entrance Assessment or SEA exam. This is the time when parents go berserk for extra lessons, last-minute exam boot camps and expensive practice tests and educational devices for their children.

All the fuss is to ensure that children are placed in their first choice of secondary school or at least their last choice. The greatest fear of all is to be ‘zoned’ in a secondary school that was not even on their list. Here are five helpful tips for stressed-out parents to assist their children with the SEA exam.

Stress is contagious

Remember that your stress will stress out your child. The problem with examinations for many children starts with their stressed-out parents. If you talk nonstop about SEA exam, skim through the newspapers frantically in search of practice tests, run to every bookstore to purchase workbooks, DVDs and tablets that promise success in SEA, and scold your child senselessly for doing anything else other than study a book, then you will make your child feel pressured.

Dr Dianne Douglas of Douglas Associates explains how anxiety can impede on children’s concentration and focus for examination – source. So, if you would like success for your child, calm down and take your pressure off your child’s back.

SEA is an academic test

Your child is sitting an exam to enter a secondary school, not performing a rite of passage to eternal bliss or damnation. Education Minister Anthony Garcia stated that candidates will be assessed in three papers: English Language Arts, Essay Writing and Mathematics. He said, “The items for the Mathematics and English Language Arts papers will be based on the content and objectives contained in the Primary School Curriculum Guides 2013, currently being implemented, so it’s nothing new.” – source

Parents, your child yearns for love, acceptance and play like any other child. Give your child time to do something relaxing like talk to friends, sleep whenever needed and play games. There is only so much the brain can handle at a time so relaxation is important.

SEA exam

Encourage not threaten them

If you constantly remind children that they will be placed in a ‘bad school’ or threaten to bring down the thunder by taking away their belongings or banning them from having fun then you will successfully reinforce in them thoughts about failure and punishment. Children who feel emotionally abused may rebel or deliberately self-harm.

According to, “When things seem overwhelming, and too much to bear, having some control helps to deal with the situation. Self-harm is sometimes used as a way of feeling that sense of control over one’s body and feelings… it is an attempt to let others know that they need support.” Parents, motivate your children to do well with inspirational words and rewards on a daily basis.

Take time out for yourself

Parents, forget about SEA for a few hours each day and see about yourself. Worrying over whether your child is ready or not for SEA will not make your child pass for the secondary school of first choice. Many parents have stopped enjoying life from the moment their children have entered Standard Three and have become obsessed with school activities until Standard Five.

Parents need to have date nights, read books and watch movies of their choices, spend time with other adults to have conversations that do not include the words SEA exam, and find ways to laugh again.

Que Será Será

SEA exam is near and as Doris Day says, “Que será será.” There comes a time in life when parents must look at children in their eyes and say, “Whatever will be, will be.” No amount of worrying about exam preparations will change the outcome of the future.

If you have been supporting your child throughout primary school with homework, revision, motivational talks, and spending days and nights praying and hoping for the best, then you have done your part. Let your children do their part with you at their side keeping them calm and happy.

March 2019

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