In the exams run-in period, parents often report that they don’t know how to talk to their son or daughter. At times, the son or daughter is not wanting to talk about their exam preparation. Or about how they are feeling about the exams. Or if they do, it is often not with their parents.
Parents tread a difficult line. How to support and not intrude? How to assist when assistance is needed but not wanted? How to talk when talking is not being entertained? At times, it seems like parents are stuck feeling responsible but knowing they are one or more degrees away from giving help, even when help is needed.
Of course, some parents can be very driven about their child’s educational progress and their exam success. And often this determination comes out as entirely virtuous, providing support and smoothing pathways. But at times, parental ambition can overtake and overwhelm. In truth, both paths are challenging. Both have pitfalls, perhaps one more than the other.
Over many years of supporting students with exams, PERFORM has worked almost as often with the parents. Perhaps somewhat a surprise? But not really. Exams are challenging for many students, even and often especially for strong achievers (i.e., fearing not achieving . . . their goals, their exam results, their CAO points, their college course). And it is typically the parents who anticipate, ‘experience’, and try to manage the very evident exam anxiety and strains of their sons and daughters. Therein lies a parental challenge of consequence – doing exams without being in the room, literally and figuratively.
Most parents have done exams, often quite a lot of exams. But by this time around, those T-shirts are typically old, ill-fitting, and, well, often unhelpful. That old and valuable experience may not easily transfer. Or may not make sense to transfer.
Even parents need support doing exams!