Following GCSE results day, I wanted to post a piece in solidarity to all parents and families who are on the receiving end of exam stress and anxiety. We’re publishing a number of GCSE-related blogs, and hope to encourage parents and children to discuss their career options.
As a dad of three, I’ve had first-hand experience of the extreme highs and lows that our children face once they receive their results. For the lucky few, it’s outstanding grades in every subject, a first-class degree and a multitude of career successes (perhaps). But for many, exam results and examinations can be extremely stressful and debilitating; not all of us can handle pressure, controlled conditions, and tight deadlines!
At Ascendant Recruitment, we thought we’d provide 5 top tips on ways to support your children throughout this challenging time.
1: Discuss career options (and maintain an open-minded approach)
There are a number of ways to approach this topic. It’s important parents don’t force their children to pursue a path that they failed to pursue themselves.
Equally, children shouldn’t be forced to go down the university route if it’s not of interest. Consider apprenticeships, work placements and enrolling in a course at college, as opposed to the more conventional route of sixth form and university.
2: Work experience (to boost self-confidence and gain desirable skills)
The employment rate in Milton Keynes still remains incredibly high, which is why it’s important young people are not be discouraged by the job market.
Parents: why not use your contacts? Perhaps your son or daughter is interested in construction work, engineering, or setting up their own business. Utilise your contacts and arrange some work experience.
3: Get part-time job or volunteer!
A part-time job, whether it’s retail, hospitality or an office-based role, offers a great opportunity for young people to develop skills. For example, time management; customer service and dealing with customers and colleagues in a professional manner. Volunteering is also strongly encouraged from a recruitment perspective. Candidates with volunteering experience are often very proactive, forthcoming and hardworking by nature. It also looks impressive on a personal statement (for university) and CV, too.
4: Take the pressure off
Not all pupils perform well in exams. Some get incredibly anxious, which can affect their memory and ability to excel. But what are their options? For those who didn’t achieve their desired results, there’s always retakes. Invest time in learning how to do exams well. There are a number of practical tips that can help with retaining information and staying calm. Try and help alleviate any pressure or anxiety by encouraging exercise, activities or simply going out for a walk for some fresh air. Explain that a disappointing result isn’t a reflection of your child’s own self-worth. Accept failure. We all fail. It’s through failing that we grow stronger and more resilient as individuals.
5: Communication is key
Over the years, I’ve found communication is essential when it comes to understanding my children’s likes, dislikes and the subjects that they’re especially interested in. But when it comes to the subjects they don’t enjoy, I find ways to make the subject and work more desirable. I’ve applied skills to real-life situations to provide context and meaning. Trigonometry, for example, may be tedious, but it can be essential brain training for other career decisions.
And finally, the advice I offer my children always remains the same. Be the best you can be and only compete with yourself.