GCSE Parent Hacks
12 hacks to support your teen during GCSE’s:
1: Have a Visual Timetable on Display
Get a week by week diary on the wall, mapping out every exam so that you can see all the revision gaps and help your teen feel in control.
2: No Commitments
Don’t commit yourself to much during this time. It will be up and down and your teen will need to feel that you are available should they need you.
3: Positive Focus
Your teen is likely to experience waves of self-doubt and negativity. Remind them of the positives, their gains, and achievements. Remind them of what they are good at. Tell them they just need to focus on the tricky bits amongst all the good bits that they are brilliant at.
4: Be Available & Flexible
It is likely that your teen will need you at the most ‘in-opportune’ time! Be ready to drop what you are doing. Note: this ‘needing to talk’ may not be about study, but a need to talk about random, social, trivial stuff. This is their way of staying connected with you. See it as a form of debrief. Be patient.
5: Silent Chaperone
Be a silent chaperone. If they ask you to accompany them anywhere (over their friends), this is a form of request for non-verbal support. You can even make offers: ‘do you want me to come with you’ – but add that you will bring your own stuff, will be focusing on something else, won’t be bothering them etc. Your non verbal presence is powerful.
6: Breaks: Physical Activity/Fun
Make sure they balance mental activity (revision) with physical activity or enjoyable fun stuff, otherwise this will build up and work against them, with the risk of burn out. The brain can only do so much.
7: Eat for the Brain
Talk about food with them – the importance of eating well to support the brain for revision and exam performance. Proper breakfasts on exam days, and healthy meals during this period. Involve them, get ideas from them. We can’t think straight when under-nourished. Oily fish (brain) and bananas (memory) seem to work!
8: Plan Rewards
Talk about ‘life after exams’, the great things that they can do when they have more time, things to look forward to: connecting with friends, going on holiday, watching movies they haven’t seen, doing the stuff that they love. You can also give regular rewards during this period, not gifts, little things you know that they like, that will cheer them up: favourite foods or drinks, listening to songs they like, showing interest in their hobby or passion. These are all moments of bliss for a teen.
9: Provide a Secure Frame
Everything is out of their control: how much to study, whether they have done enough, will they pass, what questions will they get. It is all unknown and beyond them. To counter this, make sure you let them know how everything around them is in control: you’ve sorted this and thatout – let them know. They will feel safe and secure. Minimise life’s problems.
Just because they are stressed, there is no reason to treat you badly and take it out on you. Draw the line. Tell them that you are working hard to support them during this period. Remind them of this, if their anger gets out of control. When they understand you are doing your best and working ‘with them’ they are gentle and supportive, flexible and understanding.
11: Staying Calm
There will be emotional outbursts, although these will lessen if you do these hacks. When dealing with these, stay calm, walk away if need be, do not react, do not show reactions, be very neutral. Show them that nothing stirs or distresses you.You are modelling how to deal with stress. They will notice this. Once calm, talk rationally and be solution focused ‘this is what we are going to do’, ‘here are some solutions’, ‘what do you think is best?’ etc.
12: Additional Support
If you cannot help them with the difficult stuff, find ways to fill these gaps: extra tuition, relatives/ friends who can help, online exam papers, school tutors they can talk too etc.
Sometimes they have brain fog – are at a loss at what to do. Suggest ideas, give them some structure:
What is your nearest exam – should you focus on that?
Should you re-organise your papers/study area?
Shall I test you?
What do you feel least confident about?
How about exam cards with questions on?
Do you need some blank notebooks?