Parents – never ask "Shouldn't you be revising?" again

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It’s a tricky period. One’s youngster is going through all that teenage stuff and also working towards some of the most important “make or break” exams of their life. What do parents do?

Well, first of all, disabuse yourself of the idea that GCSEs or A’ levels are “make or break”. Every child has a place in life. Trying to force them into some sort of slot will not work. Some people take three gap years and still go on to achieve success at university. Many, many happy people never went to university or dropped out of university. Praise your teenager, encourage them to do their best and be themselves. Support them. Be a shoulder to cry on. Make nice food for them and provide a comfortable home for them. Take an interest in their studies. And that’s that. You can’t do the exams for them.

One method which we used for GCSEs and A levels was this. Our teenager nominated a target for revision hours a few months before the exams. Then every week, and then everyday as the exams grew closer, we marked up on a sheet on the wall in our living room, how much revision hours they had done for each subject. Then I produced, on an Excel spreadsheet, a status of hours done/hours to go/percentage complete/days to go until the exams/hours of revision to do per day, per week.

It worked really well. Most particularly it shifted discussion from the negative (“Shouldn’t you be revising?”) to the positive (Well done dear, you’re doing really well.)