Is your child taking exams this year?
Both you and your child will want their exams to go well; good exam results set your child up for life. A consistent worry we hear about from parents is that it is difficult to know what isn't going well throughout the year and without that knowledge, how can you help?
Here's how you can have a real impact in your child's exam results.
Help, don't reproach.
Your child will be much more honest with you if they feel they will not be told off for a bad test result. One of the biggest worries students have is that they feel on their own in the run up to exams. Be on their side, congratulate them when they do well and offer to help when they don't.
Listen to your child
Your child is the best source of information about their education.
Following a parents evening or discussion with other parents, it can be easy to make decision about your child's education without consulting them.
Your child lives it every day and whilst they may not always make the best decisions with that information on their own, they do have a lot of the insight with which you can help them make the best next move using your own experience. Involve your child in their own learning. The more control you give them, the more ownership they are likely to take.
Problem solve with your child
Practice the 5 why's.
After listening to your child, if they suggest they are finding it difficult to learn content because of an external influence (such as 'having a bad teacher', 'distractions in lessons', 'difficulty studying at home', 'feeling like they are falling behind'), ask them 'Why?'.
'Why is your teacher bad?', 'Why are you getting distracted?'. Then ask 'Why?' again until you feel like you are getting to the root of the problem. Typically this is after 5 whys!
Quite often, the root cause is not an external influence or a content issue. I've found it's more often than not a confidence issue, fear of failure or pressure to succeed. It is difficult to get a child to admit something they might perceive as failure and this is a way of arriving at it together. Once the root cause is out there, it is a lot easier for everyone to work together to help.
As parents, these root causes are typically things you can address. Admitting a weakness yourself will help. Explaining to your child something you have felt very low confidence with and the steps you took to get to where you are now makes you more approachable and gives them hope that they will be ok.
What to do once you know the problem
Fix it, together.
When you know the problem, the solution is where you as a parent can have the most impact; it's not all about spending a fortune on tutors!
Make an action plan where some of the actions are theirs and some of the actions are yours - you are in this together.
Agree with your child what changes they will make on the back of your discovery of the problem; suggesting things that have worked for you are a great starting point.
As part of your actions, there are changes you can make at home such as setting up a study area for them, working when they work to create camaraderie, asking more about school and encouraging more. There are also a great deal of educational resources you can gain access to for your child to use which are beneficial for home learning.
Once you have your action plan, you can only hold your child accountable to it if they too can hold you accountable. If you set a great example making small changes, quickly, it will encourage a huge mind-shift in your child for the rest of the year leading up to exams.
Not only are you now more aware of where they are at, your child will trust you to be part of the journey with them.
I will say a closing observation regarding additional educational resources - make sure your child is spending time and effort on the right resources that actually work. We have built MarkIt to help parents like you and students like your child. If you want to know more, or just want some advice, please do get in contact. Our mission is to secure exam success for anyone who asks us.
Visit our website to see how we're helping.