How to Help Your Teenager Achieve at Exam Time

Parents are uniquely placed to understand their own teenagers. It is parents who have nurtured them from birth and even the best teachers have only known your teenager for a short time. Teachers have the ‘good of the group’ in mind and examination outcomes to work for and whilst a good teacher is a great help when it comes to achieving in a particular subject, it is parents who affect teenage learning behaviours in the most profound way. Teenagers are not yet adults (in some ways they are still very much children) and as such they need their parents to help guide them.

teenage girl holding books isolated in white

Teenagers don’t always LOVE to study!

Even though secondary school can seem an impersonal place, the truth is that most teachers welcome parental involvement. Teenagers whose parents actively work with the school are the ones who achieve their potential. This does not mean parents need to go to the school every day as if your teenager were still in primary education. It does mean that parents need to keep track of their teenager’s progress as closely as they can manage.

One way to keep in touch is through your teenager’s school diary. Homework should be written into this for all the subjects your teenager studies. If it is not, then check your teenager is actually writing down what they are asked to do. Often, if teenagers want to avoid work they will simply not write it in the diary. Write a note to the teacher in the diary. If this is not answered, ask for the teacher’s email address. It may be that your teenager has not shown the teacher your note as it will lead to more work. Email is easier for teachers to respond to, as many have limited access to phones and may not be able to come to the phone through the school day.

Next, check your teenager’s work files and exercise books. I always write down what my students are doing well and what they need to do next time at the end of assessed work. Teenagers are notorious for just looking at the grade. Help your teenager by bringing their attention to what they need to do to improve their work.

Mother and Son

Work with your teenager… not against them

Facilitate good learning by providing your teenager with a quiet place to work where they have room to spread out and complete work to a high standard. My dining room was invaluable as my teenagers could spread work out on the table and write in comfort. If you only have one room, turn the TV off and have a quiet activity time as your child studies. It is important that the household ‘comes together’ during this time (think how distracting or unfair it might appear if someone is studying whilst a sibling is on their Xbox). Simply sitting with your teenager and helping them study (or simply reading alongside them) can prove very encouraging. Teenagers will feel supported by your presence and will see that you, as a parent, value their academic efforts.

Sending teenagers to their room to work is less effective as, once alone, distractions are inevitable and your youngster is more likely to rush work. If teenagers work in a ‘visible’ space, you can encourage them and point out if the work looks presentable or long enough.

Never underestimate yourself as a parent. It may have been a long time since you have studied a given subject but you can always help encourage increased effort and improved presentation!

How to Help Your Teenager Achieve Exam Success: A Parent’s Guide is a book by April Miller.

Parent's Guide

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