When your child is due to get exam results – whether that’s GCSE, IB or A-Levels – it can be even more nerve-racking for you as a parent than it is for them. And if it turns out that things have gone wrong and your child hasn’t got the results they were hoping for, then it can be harder still. 

The best time to have a conversation about resits is before results even come out. That way, you can focus on the practicalities without high emotions or recriminations. It’s simply a case of asking your child what they would like to do if they don’t wind up with the grades they were hoping for. Having a plan in mind – what results they could live with, what they would want to resit – will make results day much less fraught, because even if things have gone wrong, you and your child will know what happens next.

When having this conversation, a vital contribution you can make as a parent is providing perspective. You’ll know that a single dropped GCSE grade in a minor subject is something your child is likely to forget in a year or two; but you’ll also know how much they might regret not re-sitting the subject that could have got them into their dream university, even if they’re dismissive of it now. It’s this kind of perspective that can be invaluable for your child in working out whether they need to resit a subject, and if they do, encouraging them to take it seriously.

If it turns out that your child does need to take resits, then the best thing you can do is to be supportive. You might be disappointed with them, but it’s likely that they are just as disappointed with themselves, and making them feel worse won’t motivate them. And if the gulf that they need to make up in their resits feels insurmountable, you may also need to take on the role of cheerleader in their studies.

If your child is still living with you through the period of taking resits, you can also support them practically. That means keeping their younger siblings quiet so that they can focus on studying, providing a room where they can work undisturbed if possible, and generally encouraging the good sleep habits and healthy eating that help to boost brainpower. This kind of support can be much more impactful than any amount of pressure to work hard.

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