My Child Did Poorly For His Exams. What should I do?
From my years of experience teaching students and talking to parents, I know that parents want their children to do the best that they can in all areas of life, especially at school. Exam time can be a particularly stressful time for parents and children alike as these tests are often considered the ultimate indicator of success in Singapore. When children fail exams, parents often feel like their child isn’t doing their best or are not taking their studies seriously. This is not always the case and there is a lot to learn from a failed exam. Here, I list 12 tips for parents to help get their child back on track!
Parental Support is Crucial
Failing exams can indicate that your child does not understand what they are learning and can give parents an indicator that something is amiss. Parental support and help with areas of difficulty with a private tutor can often help students to overcome this difficulty. No two people learn in exactly the same way and your child’s teacher may be using a method that works for most students but not for everyone. Sometimes a different approach is all that is necessary for understanding. Having a tuition teacher might be helpful as your child can have better rapport with the teacher.
Give your child some rest
Problems with vision or health can cause students to perform at less than their best and these issues should be considered when children are experiencing difficulty in school. Children should be well rested before an exam and have a good breakfast. This will allow the brain to work at its best and make memory recall much easier. If children have poor sleeping and eating habits this will often be reflected in their test scores. Read here for tips on how to prepare your child on the day of examinations.
Have an open conversation with your child
When children fail at school this provides parents with an opportunity to have important discussions with their child about the value of education, dedication to their studies, and allows you to participate more fully in their education. Ask children what the reason is behind their exam failure; they usually know what the issue is behind their low test score. If you feel that you have difficulty communicating with your child, get someone else like your tuition teacher to analyse and talk with your child.
Help your child develop good study habits
Help your child to develop good study habits while still maintaining a balance. There is such a thing as studying too much. Children should have time each day to play, spend time with family members, and help out around the house with whatever chores need to be done on a daily basis. This teaches kids how to balance their lives successfully as adults. Studying for too long does not increase the amount of material remembered and can actually have the opposite effect.
Have reasonable expectations
It is important for parents to be reasonable about their child’s achievements. Not every child is going to be a rocket scientist and have 100% on everything. Each person is an individual. As such, your child may be great at languagues but horrible in math or score highly in chemistry and physics but do poorly in history or cultural studies. Keep goals for your child realistic for them as an individual. Knowing the difference between when your child is failing because they are not trying and when they are failing due to different areas of strength is key.
Help your child learn their strengths and weaknesses
Help children to determine which areas they have difficulty in and which ones they excel at without any effort. Adjust study time and focus so that the most time spent studying is used on areas where your child is having difficulty and not on the areas that they just naturally do well in. Teach children to not only do their homework but to develop organizational skills, responsibility, foresight, and dedication. These skills affect learning just as much as anything else and can have dramatic effects on overall achievement.
Arrange a holistic schedule for your child
Help children develop a good schedule that allows a good balance between school, family, and leisure. Allow children to unwind a little from their school day before they start homework. After all, they’ve just sat in class for hours on end learning and getting to homework straight away is going to have counteractive results. Let your child’s mind absorb what they have learned a little while they do a chore or play to burn off some energy. Then sit them down in a quiet environment and let them begin. If possible, provide a snack when children get home from school before they start homework or wait until after the evening meal to begin. The brain needs fuel to learn and children do not learn as well or retain information well on an empty stomach.
Success from failure
Failure in itself is important. People don’t succeed at everything they do all of the time. They fail occasionally. Teaching your child that failing from time to time is a normal part of life can help them to develop important skills that will last a lifetime. Getting a poor test result is a reality check for your child. Failing and learning to deal with that failure appropriately can help your child to do better the next time around.
Let your child gain independence
Children learn that they are ultimately in control of how they perform when they are allowed to fail. While many parents nowadays are overprotective when it comes to their children’s studies, this is not always wise. It is not unheard of to find that parents or their chemistry tuition teacher have done most of their child’s chemistry homework throughout the year. While parents think this is helping their child to do well, the exact opposite is true. A child cannot be expected to do well if their parents have done the majority of their work throughout the year. When kids come home with poor test scores, these parents often can’t figure out how their child is not doing well.
Help your child take ownership
Help your child to learn, study, develop good habits, and take ownership for their success and failures. Sit down regularly with your child and ask how they are doing in school in general and with their course materials. Offer to help when necessary but don’t do it for them. Let your child learn that they are ultimately responsible for their performance.
Teachers can tell when children are turning in assignments which have had a little too much help from parents. Don’t forget, your child participates in class assignments and participates in ways you are not present for. This type of behavior does not ultimately lead to your child’s success as only they can write their O Level or A Level exams. Let them do their chemistry homework for themselves as this is an additional set of tasks developed specifically to reinforce what is learned in class.
Learn from past mistakes
When your child does come home with a failed end of year exam, look it over closely with them. Help them find the correct answers for things they did wrong. Give them helpful tips on how to avoid these errors on their next exam. Use this opportunity to provide life skill lessons. Do not harshly criticize your child’s performance. This can lead to raised stress levels during future exams and can result in your child doing poorly as testing stress can create problems with memory recall and problem solving.
Don’t take your child’s failure personally
Don’t take your child’s failure personally. This is not about you, it’s about them. Instead, foster a positive environment which encourages your child to approach you when they are having difficulty throughout the year and ask for help. No child wants to ask for help when they know they are going to get a grumpy, irrational parent who expects more than they are actually capable of. Errors are part of learning as is failure.
The most important thing you can provide your child for success in their studies is to let them stand on their own abilities. Create good habits, foster success, then stand back and let success or failure happen. If your child comes to you upset because they have failed, use this as an opportunity to learn that you can’t be successful all of the time. Occasional failure is part of life. Learning how to recover from failure and do better next time is just as important as learning to properly construct a paragraph or do a complex organic chemistry equation.
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