Preparing for exam results day is almost as hard as preparing for the exams themselves! If your child is anxiously pacing holes in the living room rug as they wait for GCSE or A-level result, it’s only natural to want to want to help them. Here are some important ways that you can support your child in the run up to results day and prepare them for the day itself.
Encourage them to keep busy and not ruminate on their exam results
Those long, empty summer days sound wonderful at first, but all that free time can allow negative thoughts to creep in. There’s no point in your child replaying exams in their head or worrying about what they did (or didn’t) do in their course work.
Looking back with worry or concern very rarely leads to feeling confident, so remind them to stay positive and focus on the things they CAN control, like their plans for the days and weeks ahead.
Encourage your child to fill their days with activities and fun things to do, you could even sit down with them and plan out an activity schedule together. Try a mixture of favoured pastimes and new experiences – visit museums and galleries, join classes, try a new sport, plan trips with friends. Even simple activities like going for a daily walk can help give the long days some structure and use up some of that nervous energy.
Above all, reassure your child that what’s done is done, and you know that they did the best they could.
Plan how and when they will get their exam results
Parents get just as excited (and nervous) as their children about exam results day but try to remember this is your child’s day. So, plan it around their needs. Talk things through with your child, and make sure they have a plan that works for them. Start by finding out how your child will receive their results – will they be sent by email, or posted, or do they have to go down to school to collect them in person? Will they travel to school alone, or will you take them? Also check the timings carefully – there’s no point in them turning up early and waiting around in a state of nervous anxiety.
It’s only natural to want to be there with them, but your child may prefer to meet friends so they can all get their results together and go on to celebrate afterwards. That’s fine, but make sure you have a backup plan in case things don’t go as expected. If your child doesn’t get the results they wanted, they may want you to be there to support them. So, take the day off work, and don’t plan any meetings or appointments that will render you unavailable.
Plan a celebration or something to mark the occasion
This is a tricky one. It’s tempting to plan a big party to celebrate your child’s exam results, but if things don’t go their way, they may not feel like seeing lots of people or facing endless questions from well-meaning family members. Nevertheless, milestone exams are a rite of passage, and your child deserves to have the occasion acknowledged in some way. So let them know that you’d like to reward their hard work regardless of the outcome and ask what THEY would like to do. The most obvious idea is a family meal, but alternatives could be a spa day, concert tickets, or tickets to a favourite sporting event. Again, these don’t need to be booked for results day itself. In fact, it’s often better to wait a little while for the celebration as this allows your child time to reflect and process the emotions of the day first.
Help them prepare for different outcomes/know your backup options
Nobody wants to think the worst, but sometimes it pays to be one step ahead in the event of surprising or unwelcome news. Exam results don’t always go the way you expect. One constructive way to prepare your child for this to help them plan their backup options. It’s important to remind them that even the worst-case scenario isn’t the end of the world.
Instead, think over all the possible scenarios (great results, poor results, average results) and how these scenarios may make them feel. Then, help your child to consider what their plan will be if/when those scenarios happen. These plans could include looking at alternative courses, colleges, or universities, resitting certain exams, or taking a gap year.
At the very least, encourage your child to think about their short-term goals, and what grades they need to reach these goals. Without planning, it can be hard for young people to analyse and absorb their results and what they mean for their future. Having a plan will help with that awful feeling of not knowing what the next chapter holds.
Let them know you’re there, and offer to talk
Do this throughout – after exams, in the run up to results day, and especially afterwards. Even if your child gets the best results, they may still be anxious about big life changes such as leaving home or moving to a new school.
It’s never a good idea to bottle up your worries and fears and talking to a parent (or knowing this is an option) is important for all young people. Reassure your child that no matter how much you want them to do well, you will love, support and be proud of them no matter what. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable talking to someone at home (and plenty of teenagers don’t), encourage them to approach their friends and teachers for support.
Above all, remind your child that exams results matter, but they aren’t the most important thing in life. No matter what they still have an exciting future ahead of them filled with opportunity.
Good luck to all young people who will be getting their results this week!
George Alexander Tuition is a specialist maths tuition agency based in Central London. We support children aged 11-18 with a variety of termly tuition packages and exam coaching from 11+ to A-Level. We also offer bespoke packages to support children who are learning at home. To find out more, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us through social media, on Instagram and Facebook, and check out our handy maths tutorials on our YouTube channel.