How you can help your child during their A levels
I have been tutoring A level students one to one for the last ten years. At home, at the dining table, they have spoken about more than just academic material. One resounding conclusion - they feel alone in their world of exams and A level life. You can help by sharing this burden.
5 ways you can share the stress and help your child feel supported.
1. Share the successes AND the failures
If they missed the grades they wanted on a test or coursework, ask them how you can help and listen. They are not the best at coming up with solutions, they are more likely to state problems or simply express feelings of disappointment. I was handling this the wrong way for years. I tend to be solutions focused in my approach - suggesting how they can change things. In reality, they just want you to listen. As pointless as it may seem, not suggesting solutions immediately is often the best approach.
2. Accept and be proud of their ambitions
If they know what they want to do when they grow up, accept it and own it like they do. In reality, you and I both know that two years of A levels, results day and three years of university still need to happen before they actually DO what they want to do. Decisions will be made en route and paths are more than likely to change. These ‘discussions’ should be limited to whatever keeps the oil in the engine TODAY.
3. Never compare them with their friends
This is important - I have seen students be most vulnerable to the tiniest of comments that their parents have made. It upsets me when someone else becomes the ’standard’ they need to live up to. Students will always be insecure about approval from teachers and friends - let it be obvious that they have yours.
4. Point to help, without enforcing it
I myself, as a tutor have been ‘forced’ as a form of help to students that did not need/want to engage with one to one help. To students, enforcing help clouds your intentions and makes it easy for them to misinterpret your concern for disappointment in their abilities. Present the options to them and be open to hearing their concerns - ask them WHY they would not want a particular form of help and look to solve the real underlying problems at hand.
5. Find the neutral unbiased voice
It could be the best advice in the world but it often lacks impact when they hear it from you. If you can no longer have a conversation that leads to constructive action, they need to hear it from someone else. Same words, different person, and all of a sudden they will take it on board! I have on more than one occasion, been the ’neutral voice’ - find someone they look up to and will share their worries with. This is a great way to share the stress with someone entirely outside of school and home.
This is some humble advice coming from a non-parent, but a very experienced mediator between parents and students. Things can go swimmingly well and catastrophically badly but everything does work out in the end. It may not be the ‘end’ everyone was hoping for and it may take longer than planned but as long as everyone is healthy and happy - everyone eventually finds the right path.