By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED. Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant.
Q: Sophie, what do I do with a child worried over their exam results?
SEA results are out. Report cards with end-of-year exam results are next, then CXC and CAPE. Some will exult; others are discouraged. What is the cause of such deep pain and trauma caused by exam results? It is all about perspective.
Stories abound where children are devastated at not passing for their first or second choice. They are devastated, distraught and scarred forever because they had adopted a perspective that they were only valuable if they got into their first or second choice school.
The family felt more valued and respected by their community and peers by their child’s success, and ashamed by the lack thereof.
Oh, that we could wake up tomorrow and our young children could go through one school from age 4–17 years of age, seamlessly. That not being the case, the ONLY solution is to change our perspective.
I heard some brilliant opinions expressed on this topic, on the recent Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) interview series on Facebook: ‘The Power to Become’. One person so wisely said “We can re-sit exams but our children are an exam and them we cannot re-sit.”
We cannot remake them. We have one chance to nurture and form their hearts and minds. Let us as parents and caregivers be the buffer for them, protecting them from the terrible stigma attached to grades.
For Heaven’s sake, how can we tell a child they failed when they achieved marks in the 60s, 70s and 80s and 90s but did not get in for their first-choice school? Have we gone mad? Those marks are clear passes.
Most of those interviewed in the UTC series held high positions in that organisation and none of them passed for their top choices in the then Common Entrance, now SEA.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers we must not give our children the impression that their worth depends on the school they attend and the grades they get. We must help them understand that a school should not define who they are, what they want or what they want to be.
Instead ask your children what they want in life, and help them understand that an education is needed in order to get and achieve what they want.
A successful secondary education can be had in any school, “Life is what you make it”. A positive mindset is all one needs: an attitude to make the most with what one has. Youngsters can even gain a secondary education at home. There are different ways to learn.
Let’s instil in them that it is all about having the will to become a success in life.
We only have control over our mind and our attitudes. We’ve had no control over where we were born and live but with our minds we can take ourselves anywhere.
Let’s give our children this vision as they open their report books and get exam results. Disappointing results are not the end of the world but are opportunities to find other paths to one’s goals.
Let’s stand on another side to get another perspective and see other possibilities and preserve the tender hearts of our children, 18,000 of them every year!
Send your parenting questions to email@example.com