In case you've been living under a rock, don't listen to the news, or haven't looked at your social media feeds yet today, it's A-Level results day!  If you're one of the stressed parents waiting nervously at home, waiting for a phone call, or even driving your child to the results centre because you can't wait to know yourself, we thought you might like some top tips on how to support your children through this potentially challenging time.  

Students reading a piece of paper in a corridor

1: Discuss career options (and maintain an open-minded approach)

There are a number of ways to approach this topic. It’s important parents don’t force their children to pursue a path that they failed to pursue themselves.

Equally, children shouldn’t be forced to go down the university route if it’s not of interest. Consider apprenticeships, work placements and enrolling in a course at college, as opposed to the more conventional route of sixth form and university.

2: Suggest work experience (to boost self-confidence and gain desirable skills)

The employment rate in Milton Keynes still remains incredibly high, which is why it’s important young people are not be discouraged by the job market.

Parents: why not use your contacts? Perhaps your son or daughter is interested in construction work, engineering, or setting up their own business. Utilise your contacts and arrange some work experience.  Ask around at businesses you know - at Milton Keynes Business Centre there are lots of business owners that may be happy to provide work experience.

3: Consider part-time jobs or volunteering!

A part-time job, whether it’s retail, hospitality or an office-based role, offers a great opportunity for young people to develop skills. For example, time management; customer service and dealing with customers and colleagues in a professional manner. Volunteering is also strongly encouraged from a recruitment perspective. Candidates with volunteering experience are often very proactive, forthcoming and hardworking by nature. It also looks impressive on a personal statement (for university) and CV, too.

4:  Take the pressure off

Not all pupils perform well in exams. Some get incredibly anxious, which can affect their memory and ability to excel. But what are their options? For those who didn’t achieve their desired results, there’s always retakes. Invest time in learning how to do exams well. There are a number of practical tips that can help with retaining information and staying calm. Try and help alleviate any pressure or anxiety by encouraging exercise, activities or simply going out for a walk for some fresh air. Explain that a disappointing result isn’t a reflection of your child’s own self-worth. Accept failure. We all fail. It’s through failing that we grow stronger and more resilient as individuals.

5:  Communication is key

Over the years, I’ve found communication is essential when it comes to understanding my children’s likes, dislikes and the subjects that they’re especially interested in. But when it comes to the subjects they don’t enjoy, I find ways to make the subject and work more desirable. I’ve applied skills to real-life situations to provide context and meaning. Trigonometry, for example, may be tedious, but it can be essential brain training for other career decisions.

And finally, the advice I offer my children always remains the same. Be the best you can be and only compete with yourself.