I was recently interviewed by School Exams.co.uk about how to handle Exam Day
Parents worry about the stress their children go under around exams but are exams a good or bad thing for children in your opinion?
Exams are a way to level the playing field, to see what children know – and that’s part of life. Exams can be stressful, but it’s important how parents handle them and how you teach your children to handle them: if you’re stressed, nagging or putting them under pressure, they’ll pick that up and may resent it.
What you’re trying to do is create is a lifelong learner. I work with children to set goals and understand why they’re doing exams. For example, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I worked backwards and knew that I had to pass Maths to be able to do that so I realised I needed to stick with it.
Try to link the exams to the bigger picture. If you relax around their studies and help them create routines and structures for learning, it helps them not feel overwhelmed by the exams when they come.
What is the worst parenting mistake anyone can make on GCSE Results Day?
Look enormously disappointed and say, ‘Oh God, that’s disastrous’! This undermines all your child’s self-esteem, they’re already feeling awful, so it won’t help take them to a better place.
You have a choice in how you react: the best approach is to stay grounded and positive. For example, my son didn’t do as well as expected in history and we had to have a chat with his teachers around staying on in the Sixth Form but at no point did I make him feel like a failure. It’s very much about thinking, ‘We’ve got a problem, how can we solve this positively?’
What advice do you give to parents whose children are receiving GCSE results?
Be supportive, encouraging and listen to your child. Also be mindful of their privacy and don’t compare them to their brothers and sisters.
If they don’t get the grades they anticipated, it can be a time to reflect and think about where they’re going. It can actually be a wonderful opportunity if you choose to make it so.
But it can also teach them a valuable lesson about life; either you get out what you put in or that life isn’t always fair. It is about teaching them resilience and building their self-esteem: life will knock you down but you have to be able to get back up no matter how many times you fall over. As a parent, you have to support them in getting back up.
If your child does better than expected, how should you react?
It’s a cause for celebration. Praise and encourage. Dance and sing. Celebration is a great motivator to carry on.
When should you be worried about your child’s response to their results?
Read the interview here