A word of encouragement from mum or dad!

The next couple of months may be a very anxious time for many families, with parents worrying if their son or daughter will make the grade. Despite all the publicity in the media about grade inflation, some of which is justified, students still have to put the work in to get the grade.

There is no doubt that studying consistently throughout the academic year is the best way to success. However, there is still a lot that can be achieved in the last two to three months leading to the summer examinations. My advice to young people is: get stuck into it and you’ll feel better in August when the exam results are released. It is important to ensure that a systematic revision programme is in place and it is followed up by action and persistency.

Parents can give a lot of encouragement by asking questions and showing an interest in the material in which the child is studying. Don’t worry; you do not have to have a vast amount of knowledge on the subjects in question! It is natural for young people to want to impress their parents. One of the ways a young person can impress is when they think they are actually teaching an adult something. It makes them feel responsible and somewhat proud. Encouragement can be given in a subtle way!  You could pretend and say you do not quite understand what climate change, for example, means and ask him or her what is it all about. It’s always good to avoid asking a question which will lead to a yes or no answer. If you really want to be crafty, you could spend a couple of minutes on Google having a brief look on the topic beforehand but you don’t have to! Praising a real effort which a student has made and asking them about how they have spent the day can also be a motivating factor.

An intensive revision programme over the Easter holiday can be very useful in helping to improve grades. However, please be aware that is it not prudent for a young person to pin all their hopes on Easter revision. Classes over the Easter break can be particularly effective for a student who grasps concepts with relative ease but has not worked hard enough over the course of the academic year. Most students who have worked reasonably well throughout the year can also benefit from an Easter revision programme as it can help to boost confidence and clear up misconceptions. However, watch out for providers of Easter revision who use any teacher to cover their classes. Parents should ask questions such as: where do the teachers teach; what is their experience; and to what level do they teach the subject in their everyday teaching job? Weekend or evening classes are usually better at adding a real value as the student builds up relationship with the teacher and the teacher gets to know the strengths and weaknesses of the student. This, reinforced with either an Easter or a half-term revision programme, can be very powerful in bringing about a dramatic change in the grade a student achieves.