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Exams are over for my child – now what?

4 tips to make exam season a learning opportunity


"My exams are over!”, is often a message from your child that they should be relieved of strict rules that apply during exam season. Between that announcement and the day you have to sign your child's report book, you may have fulfilled promises and given longer screen times and later good nights. But, have you helped your child ease out of the exam season (aka damage control)? If you haven’t, read on for Dos and Don'ts on what you can do for your child post exams.

1. Don’t scrutinize your child's mistakes

As much as we strive to be perfect, we are only human. We are all prone to making mistakes, and so are your children. What’s critical is that they learn and improve from their mistakes. That means helping your child to progress from “I left the last question blank because I didn't have time to study for it ” to “I’ll plan my revision schedule better to cover all the tested topics”. While every mark does matter, it is counterproductive to only focus on mistakes that cannot be undone. Placing greater emphasis on improvements will also encourage your child to face their mistakes better.

2. Don’t say “I told you so”

Though it may be tempting to right their wrongs by saying “I’m right, you’re wrong”, this is often a negative comment that children do not take well to. As a parent, you are naturally on your child’s team. If they receive poor grades because they skived off, use this as an opportunity to teach them a lesson on cause-and-effect. Help them make the connection between their actions (being unprepared for exams) and the direct results (poor grades). Do say “So you discovered the consequences of your actions”. That puts the spotlight on the process of your child learning from their mistakes, and not only on them being in the wrong. The best lessons are, after all, learnt from failure.

"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." Nelson Mandela

3. Do be supportive

Things may not always happen as planned. Despite putting in their best efforts for the exam, your child may still perform less than satisfactory. Your encouragement and support are crucial in helping them maintain a healthy state of mind. Reassure your child that their diligence is not futile but may just be misplaced. This prevents them from associating their hard work to pointlessness.

4. Do craft the next steps

If you can change something, don’t worry about it. If you can’t change something, why worry about it? The grades on the exam script can no longer be adjusted. What can be adjusted, is your child’s mindset and attitude. Reserve your time and energy for productive changes. Moving forward, discuss with your child their potential new goals. It could be to revise or re-study concepts that they are weak in. Or it could be to experiment new techniques that help them study efficiently. Most importantly, craft a plan with realistic steps to achieve your child’s goal before the next exam season.

Each exam season is not only a test of your child’s knowledge, but it also reflects your child’s ability to learn from his or her past struggles. Communicating improvements with your child post exams can take away the stress and fear of exams, thereby building their confidence for the next exam. It is never too early to have the end in mind.

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