The Looming Leaving Certificate… by Mary Lucey
It is without doubt that every parent/guardian wants the best for their child on the run up to and during the Leaving Certificate examinations. Reports received from some 6th year parents/guardians on the impact the Leaving Certificate year has specifically on them, and not the actual students, is fascinating. From weight gain to weight loss, due to over or undereating brought on by stress, to cancellation of the year’s holiday, to acting as sentry on duty outside bedrooms, to payment of bribes and promises of exotic holidays, latest gadgets, etc the list goes on.
Below are some tips for parents/guardians – based on my own personal experience working with thousands of students and their parents over the years. These should help leading up to and during the Leaving Certificate exams.
Put the students in the driving seat
Allow the Leaving Certificate students to take control and drive their own study and revision sessions. If they themselves take ownership of the situation, they are more invested in the process and the learning outcomes will be far more beneficial. The drive should come from within to do well and not from an external factor such as the promise of money, foreign holidays or extravagant gifts.
The significance of the Leaving Certificate
It is important for all involved to realise that, while the Leaving Certificate is currently significant in your child’s life, it will not make or break a person. It is a means to an end. A means that, in a lot of cases, does not reflect the full potential or abilities of a student. Having a great future and leading a full and rewarding life is not solely dependent on the outcome of the Leaving Certificate. Parents/guardians need to be aware of the various options after the Leaving Certificate outside of CAO and third-level colleges. Careers do not depend solely on CAO offers.
As parents or guardians, you need to be aware and accept your student’s historical pattern of results and how these relate to potential CAO points. Every parent/guardian wants their child to do their very best and to be happy with their results. Students should not be pressurised to aim for a 600 points course if parents/guardians know that with hard work and effort, the scope of their ability is 400 points.
Treat everyone as an individual. Be aware of differences within families. Don’t compare siblings, each person is an individual, in their aptitudes and abilities, and how they will perform in exam settings.
Encourage rather than nag
While it is tempting to constantly tell the Leaving Certificate student they should be studying, this nagging causes friction and upset, negatively impacting the entire family.
It is important that students eat well and drink plenty of water to ensure they are well set up physically to perform to the best of their ability.
Continue with Hobbies/Pastimes
Allow a certain level of engagement with hobbies and interests. From a mental and physical health perspective, such activities are hugely beneficial and will keep a balanced perspective on the looming exams.
Try and keep things as normal as possible leading up to and during the exams. The students will hear nothing but talk about the Leaving Certificate in schools, in the media, on social media, contributing to increased levels of stress and anxiety. It is normal for them to be somewhat nervous as that shows they care about the outcome, so their feelings should not be dismissed. The more normal everybody behaves, and the more relaxed the atmosphere in the house at this time, the better the student will function and perform.
Mary Lucey Career Ahead Careerahead.ie
firstname.lastname@example.org contact number: 0879338941