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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

As a parent, you want your child to do well on their GCSE exams. You know that good scores could be important to their continued studies and future career. Of course, you want to help, but you may be unsure about how to do that. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be an expert in Science or Math to help your kids excel. No matter the topic, here are some tips on how parents can help prepare for their child’s GCSE exams.

close up of novel pages

Build motivation
You know how important this is for your child. Do they understand this, too? It’s easy for kids to focus on instant gratification, and lose sight of what’s important for their long term success.  Help them understand why giving up some play time to do their exam revision is worthwhile.

Start an exam revision early
Too many students leave this until the exam is getting too close. Your child will be able to do much better on their exams, if they get a good head start on revision, leaving plenty of time before the big day arrives. Start discussing this with them well ahead, so they don’t leave it until the end.

Make a list
Have your child make a list of all their exams, and all the topics they need to cover for each one.  Turn this into a grid or timetable, so that you’ve got a comprehensive list of everything they need to do, and how much time they estimate they need to work on each one. This helps with planning their revision time, and making sure they’ve got the knowledge they need for the exam.

Structure their time
Agree with your child about how many hours per day they are going to spend on revision, and then schedule that into their time.  If they agree they’re going to do revising during a set time slot each day, you can help them stay on track. If they just leave it freeform, like “2 hours each day”, it’s less likely to happen than if you schedule it for 3pm to 5pm.

Give them the tools

Make sure your hardworking student has the study aids he needs to maximize their learning in the time available. They should have at least one good revision book, and/or some other useful educational aids, for each subject they need to cover. Furthermore, it’s equally important to help your kid find a suitable exam revision technique. Some really efficient strategies are:

  • Group courses, revision notes, books, and study guides and keep them organized as per subject
  • Use flashcards and mind maps to structure the material
  • Find out if your child is a visual or an auditory learner
  • Make use of highlighting techniques the smart way

Monitor their progress
Use the grid of topics as a way to stay involved, and keep track of how your child is progressing.  Each day, go over what they’ve done, and mark things completed on the grid.  When you’re involved daily, it lets your child know how much you care, and keeps them motivated. As they’re able to check off completed items, this will start to change from an impossible mountain of work, into a sense of accomplishment with how much they’ve covered.

Provide encouragement
Your child may feel overwhelmed by the demands on them at this time. They may get discouraged by the feeling that there’s too much to study, that they’ll never be able to learn it all, or that they’re just not smart enough to get good marks.  Be supportive; let them know that you understand its difficult now, and that you’re confident they’ll do well on their GCSEs.

view from above of two kids studying with books and laptops

Give them a break
If their life turns into all work and no play during this period, they may get sullen, resentful, and stressed. Everybody needs a break sometimes, so make sure to give them time for recreation and fun. Also, you can be somewhat flexible with the schedule if something important comes up. Don’t let them work around your schedule all the time, but an occasional break can be a good thing.

Succeeding in GCSE exams is not something impossible to do, as long as parents understand how important it can be to get involved and help their kids make it through this stressful time.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to do well on tests.