Tag Archives: exams

What’s next? What to do if your child’s exam results aren’t what you hoped…

Exams are often stressful, but waiting on results and then dealing with the outcome can also be just as stressful for not only young people but parents too.

With that in mind, it is important to note that in the majority of instances children/ young people in Northern Ireland do pass their exams, so it is important not to be too concerned until you know the outcome. Last year, 81.1% of children doing GCSEs achieved A*-C grades. For A-Levels, 84.5% achieved at least a C grade.

It is important to take time to read the results document thoroughly. GCSE grades changed last year, and often the results papers are confusing. If you have any doubts about the results, ask a teacher or professional who is familiar with them to confirm.

If exams are considered quite important, how can parents prepare for results? How can they help their children if they do not get the results they want? Parents have the benefit of a wider depth of experience, parents can reassure a teenager who might struggle to see beyond the result itself and help them consider the many paths that might be an option e.g. return to school, college, apprenticeship, university, work etc.

Less positive results might mean that they are unable to continue on the path they had seen themselves on. They may no longer be able to attend the same school. They may be worried about losing touch with friends, falling behind or being seen as a “failure”. It is important that parents provide them with emotional comfort right away after getting results that they feel are disappointing.

Parents can be an important emotional support for a young person who is unsure of how to react to bad news. BBC Newsbeat suggests a number of ways to handle poor results for young people, many of which can be applied equally to parents:

Find someone to talk to. This may be you as a parent, but be open to the chance that they will want to talk to someone more “neutral”;

Ignore the “noise”. When you get your results, open them in private and do not immediately compare yourself to your friends. Remember that each teenager is an individual, and what is “good” or “bad” for them varies. As such, a happy or unhappy child did not necessarily do “better” or “worse” than your own;

“Move On” it is important for young people to understand that while exams feel very final, life does indeed go on;

Be careful sharing the news. Only do so with people you know will be supportive, as anyone else may impact your teenager’s mental health.

The best time to discuss the future is when you have both had reasonable time to digest the implications. Once that is the case, you can sit down with your teenager and whoever else you might find helpful to plan. Keep in mind that it may be useful for both you and your teenager to seek out advice about next steps. This might be together, and it may be better apart. There are a number of organisations or people who can provide support;

*        The Schools careers advisory service, if they are available;
*         The Careers Service (available here);
*         A trusted friend;
*         A community worker;
       The Apprenticeships service (available here);
       Your local regional college.

In conclusion, it is important for parents to:

*        Remain calm in the event of disappointing results;
*        Reassure young people as they process the meaning of their results;
*        Give context and perspective about what it means for the future;
*        Provide help and support in a new path.

You can listen to our podcast episode on this topic or download the full article below.

Read the full report

Click here to download the What's Next? Article and find out more about the research around young people and exam results. Our Support Line is also available on 0808 8010 722.

Coping with Exam Stress

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We have officially entered exam season which can be a very challenging time for both children and parents/carers. The pressure to revise and to perform well can be very stressful for young people. Revision is all the more challenging with the lovely weather we’ve been having!

Parents and carers want the best for their young people and therefore exam pressure is also very concerning for them.

Last month the BBC reported that education staff had told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers that children as young as six are stressed about exams and tests. Yesterday, Childline released stats to say they have conducted over 3,000 counselling session with young people about exam stress in the past year, a 9% increase on 2014/15.

Parenting NI are very aware of the pressures on young people when it comes to exam time and hear from parents and carers calling the free Support Line about concerns around the effects this stress has on their young people and the family as a whole.

Here are some tips for coping with the stresses of exams:

  • Try not to places pressures on the young person for obtaining the top grades to avoid them fearing failure.
  • Reassure your child that there are always other options and ways to move forward regardless of exam performance.
  • Remind your child to take regular, short revision breaks away from the books or the computer and get some fresh air or physical exercise, preferably with another person.
  •  Encourage them to eat well and have snacks whilst revising.
  • Give them space and time to study but let your child know you are available and will make time to help them with revision if they want or need it.
  • Be relaxed about chores, untidiness or moods during revision and exams.
  • Encourage good sleep to maintain their energy.
  • Be supportive when it comes to any worries your young person may have.

If you have concerns about exams and the stress your child is under please give us a call on 0808 8010 722. You can also have a chat with us online using web chat between 10:30 am and 11:30 am and 1 pm and 2 pm Monday to Friday.