Has anyone mentioned to you that these are strange times?! With no notice – or qualifications – parents suddenly found themselves in the role of a teacher or classroom assistant. With lockdown continuing here are our six top tips for parents helping pupils to stay on track as they consider heading to GCSEs and A-levels in 2021.
Don’t try to be the teacher!
As a parent we can encourage and support. But there aren’t very many of us that have the time or expertise to learn and then teach GCSE content. In the main, we should leave that to the teachers (or the plethora of online resources available).
Find out what success looks like.
If you don’t have a destination, why does it matter what you do next? Exams are not the goal, they are a means to an end. Talk to your child about what they see themselves doing. This doesn’t have to be set in stone, or especially specific, but it should be enough to know what it is they are working towards.
Agree sensible short-term objectives.
What does a good outcome look like over then next few weeks? Over the summer holidays? In year 11? It might be keeping on top of school work, perhaps mastering the basics or even preparing for the new topics. Each child will be different – and this could be done by checking with your school what makes sense. By determining a good path you have a framework and a great point of reference for seeing how things are going.
Make a plan.
You know where you’re going, and an idea of the direction to get there. Now make sure you have the specific steps in place to move forward. GCSE exams are about content. You need to make sure that you are covering the topics you need to. You can do this be reference to materials from your school, contents pages of text books, or – of course – our GCSE revision sets which break the entire course down.
A schedule of exactly what is going to be studied and when helps overcome procrastination, ensure good coverage and also let you know when you should be taking down time. you can find out more about how to manage your revision and study timetable in our previous article.
Be creative in learning.
Students won’t have covered everything in the course yet, but they will have made good head way. If your objective to to get ahead then work systematically through topics with wider reading around the subjects. Where possible think of different, creative ways to absorb and present the information. The variety will help retention and also keep it more interesting.
Review and adapt.
You are unlikely to get it spot on first time (or even for many iterations to come!). That isn’t important. The important thing is to tweak and improve. Do this by looking back on the week, with reference to the short term objectives, and thinking about what went well and what didn’t. The make changes to the plan accordingly. Although GCSE exams are mostly about content, learning is about process. We need to get things wrong so that we can figure out how to improve.
Although these are exceptional circumstances, it is a great opportunity to take a fresh look at how to inspire your child to take control of their learning. That’s not going to be easy, but it will definitely be worth it!