The Christmas/Exam mash-up.

If like me you are one of those parents banging their head on the table wondering why the school thought it was a good idea to do mock GCSE exams as soon as your child goes back after Christmas, then I feel your pain.

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What happened to November or even February mocks, why do we seem intent on making the holidays as stressful as possible?

But we are where we are, so here is how I will deal with the inevitable Christmas/exam mash-up.

  1. Remember what mock exams really are for. They are to get your child used to taking lots of exams at once. Yes, they test what your child knows so far but really what they know this far often bears no resemblance to their final results. This is like a dummy run to get them used to the process, not to indicate how they will do in their final exams.
  2. Your child will be stressed enough with school putting all sorts of pressure on them, so don’t add to this please. Instead, ask your child what they want to get out of the mocks, what is their objective? Is it just to see what taking exams feels like, is it so they can really get a feel of what they know or is just to practice answering exam questions? Ask them first before you go any further.
  3. Assuming you have completed the step above, based on what they have told you what do they think they need to do to achieve their goal? Not your goal, not the school’s goal, but their goal. The child who wants to test their knowledge will need to do more than the child who simple wants the experience, for example.
  4. When your child knows what they want to achieve and knows what they have to do, then support them to work out how they are going to do that. How much time for example will they need to put in a day or a week? Support them to come up with a plan that works towards their objectives. Remember, your child may not know how to plan effectively, so help them do this as much as you can. Grab a copy of my revision guide to help you.
  5. When you have a plan, ask what your child needs to make this happen, what support they need. Do they need supplies, need reminding, need certain textbooks, what do they need? When you know this, make sure you play your part.
  6. Make sure your child leaves enough room to have fun, socialise and just be a teen during the holidays. I know this might seem a strange thing to say, but some teenagers need reminding.

Your job then is just to do what your child has told you they need you to do, check in every few days and leave them to it. Don’t nag, don’t insist on them doing the work and remember, there is as much for your child to learn from failing as from succeeding.

Now where is that eggnog?

Sarah Newton

Author, Speaker and Youth Coach

Sarah Newton has shared her innovative wisdom with millions who have tuned into her TV and Radio shows, followed her writing and listened to her unconventional talks. She has been described as a catalyst, daring all she meets to break out from social norms and follow their own path. She has worked in youth empowerment for over 30 years, first as a police officer and then eventually running her own business, via a stint at Disney World in Florida. Sarah has a no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach to solving most youth-associated problems, based on tactics that work, not rhetoric out of a book. She often is the only one in the room to stand by her viewpoint and tends to think the opposite from everyone else. Star of ITV’s “My Teen’s A Nightmare, I’m Moving Out” and author of “Help! My Teenager is an Alien – the everyday situation guide for parents”, Sarah has just teamed up with her daughter to write a novel to help girls with their body image issues, she has also written for The Guardian, The Huffington Post and the Daily Mail. Sarah also sits on the UK board of the Arbonne Charitable Foundation and is an ambassador for Girls Out Loud.