This week thousands upon thousands of students in the UK have been receiving their AS and A Level results. Next week the GCSE results will be out. For many the grades received will access and promote their dreams and aspirations for the future and all will carry on smoothly, but for some their exam results will interrupt their future plans and introduce a platform of confusion. Such disruption to these students can prove to be quite challenging for them and at this time they will need nurturing through such a difficult time with compassion and empathy by those around them.
But how can parents and carers help at this time and what steps will help the students involved?
Critically and essentially parents/carers need to be available. Avoiding urges to cast judgement and issue blame is essential at such times for whilst the emotions are heightened, the first port of call is to re-establish an equilibrium emotionally that will help move forwards rather than looking back. That is not to say that the past cannot inform the future but for proactive and helpful management of the situation, restoring a framework of security, stability and confidence will be most helpful in making the best decisions. Clearly, short term assessments might well come into the frame but importantly realising that despite bad grades, opportunities still exist, options are still open and all is not lost play a huge part in dealing with the raw wound. Parents that avoid judgement calls (even if they feel they know exactly what’s happened) are much more likely to help their students to make better decisions in the longer term.
Secondly, be inspired from others stories. There are many people out there who have “failed” their exams and yet have gone onto achieve great things. Possibly one of the biggest failings in some schools is the over emphasis on exams and results. They aim to motivate and drive students forward to success in academic terms but motivation and determination are intrinsic properties within each of us that when accessed integrally and internally can propel us to think creatively and move forward with purpose and determination in a plethora of directions to take up opportunities that will equally fulfil and furnish. It is doubtless that success in exams provide ready stepping stones to access many opportunities but hard work and dedication with a stringent focus can circumvent poorer academic results. The key is to accept what has happened, to take comfort from the inspirational stories out there and to become determined not to give up but to foster a creative attitude. Those who can think creatively even in the face of adversity and be flexible whilst remaining focused will achieve despite the odds.
Thirdly, start to format plans to gather advice from all available sources. Schools and educational establishments will be able to help here. But also investigating other avenues independently from the web, friends, career information services, libraries etc will be essential in collecting a body of information which will provide a starting block. Information is choice and a healthy body of information is a good platform to relaunch from.
Fourthly, sit down and start weeding out the options. Try and determine what outcome is required. Assess what is needed to get there and wheedle down the information that fits the plan. Fully involve the student the whole way. The choices that are made need to be their choices so that they are primarily responsible for their decisions and secondly that they are able to use these to drive themselves forward.
Fifthly, draw on past successes. Look back at what has gone right to focus on the can rather than the can’t. Avoid unhelpful correlations, such as “all that hard work got me nowhere”, but instead fathom out the possibilities to turn these around based on previous times when things were tweaked and worked out. For example, rather than seeing that a year’s worth of hard work didn’t result in the expected grades, consider that as a way forward could be coupling more effective and efficient patterns of learning, revision, exam techniques with the previous dedication to hard work.
And finally, pull everything together based on the options that the student has chosen and is happy with. Set in place an action plan and help them be resolved to get on with it. Remain supportive throughout the process and continue to show an interest from then on in.
Look forward with fresh eyes. Realise that some of the greatest successes have come out of the biggest failures and that often these set backs can develop other skillsets including resilience.
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass
It is about learning to dance in the rain”