For many young people tomorrow will be the biggest day of their lives, so far. The most important thing you can do, as parents, is to not trivialise but support, what ever their grades. Dilys Morgan continues her fantastic advice from last week’s A Levels post to the younger exam takers in this snippet of Wednesday Wisdom.
GCSE results day can be fraught with tension for families. The young people themselves are often wound up about getting their results – nervous of the moment of truth, anxious in case they’ve let themselves down. Parents too often invest a huge amount of emotion in their teenagers’ exam results -which can feel like a huge additional pressure on the young. So, as a parent, even if you’re not feeling particularly relaxed about your son or daughter’s results – try not to let your anxiety show, but instead try to be there to support them however well or badly they’ve done.
As adults, most of us probably can’t remember precisely what grades we got in which subjects at this level – and many of us haven’t a clue how many GCSE exams we actually took. This can give us a really useful perspective on results day. It’s important not to take anything away from the amount of hard work you know they’ve done, but if there’s even the slightest smidgin of disappointment, you can help allay it by pointing out to your offspring that they can recover from bad results. They can re-sit the exams or change their subjects, and once they’re back at school and moving on to A levels, GCSE’s will very quickly become yesterday’s news.
The other important thing to remember is that they need to experience their own instinctive emotions around their results – their ‘moment’ as it’s come to be called. So if they’re thrilled, don’t dampen their spirits by suggesting they could have done better. And if they’re disappointed, don’t make their disappointment worse by letting them know that you feel the same. Ask friendly, non-judgemental questions such as
‘How do you feel about your grades then?’
rather than offering your own thoughts as in
‘You must be thrilled/disappointed’.
Remind them how hard they worked (if they did) and how they couldn’t have done more (if that’s the truth!). And tell them how proud you are of them. But if they’re down and disappointed – and you know they could have tried harder – today is probably not the best time to say so. Instead help them focus on the future. Remind them that they can do retakes, help them sort out their A-level choices, and career options.
As adults, we know how our own lives have panned out with, or without, good exam results. We know how much importance was placed on exams during our school days, yet how little they really count in later life. We know that the young today are urged to do everything possible so that their C.V.’s look good, and yet that your C.V. changes with you as you move through life with the latest achievements eclipsing the earlier ones.
Jon Snow was on the radio recently saying that when he was at school he was terrible at taking exams. He said he had lots of other talents – but was just bad at exams so he got terrible grades. And look what happened to him! It can be really helpful to our young people at this time if we give them our longer perspective and help them see that there is more to them than their exam results – we can point out all the things we love and value about them, remind them of their unique qualities, their good deeds and lovely natures and emphasise those things they shine at. And we can explain that whatever their immediate response to their results, in a year or two, once they’ve moved on to other things, they too will be able to look back on their GCSE’s as just one rung on the ladder to what they finally want to achieve.
For advice on next steps, choices and career paths you can speak to Dilys on Greatvine.