There are many things you can do as a parent to motivate your child for their impending exams. Before we get started, I just want to put it out there that I think motivation is garbage.
If you do not agree, I urge you not to read further as I might end up annoying you even further.
Motivation is truly garbage because, for most people, motivation is a feeling. It is the feeling of being pumped, excited and ready to take over the world. The sad news is that it is a feeling. It is unreliable and never there when you really need it.
Remember that night that you promised you were going to wake up earlier than everyone at home, work out, make breakfast and start your day strong?
The morning came and you hit the snooze button like a champ?
Now, do you understand why I say motivation is garbage?
There are better things you can do for your children instead of motivating them.
Here are the top 5 things I recommend (as an educator and a father) each parent do.
1. Put things in perspective
If I had a penny for every time a parent told me, “IGCSE is the most important exam my child is going to take in his/her life. Everything starts from here”, I would be a millionaire by now.
The truth is there are far more important things in life than IGCSE. IGCSE is just one small part of a person’s entire life. By making your child see clearly that an exam is just that an exam, you remove the stress related to IGCSE. Less stress results in better performance, as simple as that.
2. Give your child a sense of cause and effect
Putting IGCSE in perspective is not the same thing as telling your children they can do anything they want each day. No, that’s not what it is.
You should at the same time educate them on the effect and consequences clearly. What happens if they do not score the results needed for admission into the pre-university program that they want? How does that tie back to them not revising today?
Most importantly, your child should be absolutely clear that they are 100% in charge of their actions. If they don’t score the results needed, mommy and daddy are not going to rescue them. They have to fend for themselves. This sort of absolute responsibility fires the drive in your teenagers as you have never seen before.
For this to work, you have to be a person of your words. Your child must know that you are not a person to be messed with.
3. Build a performance mindset
In a world of complainers and whiners, this mindset would guarantee your child achieving the pinnacle of success. Let me walk you through two very different mindsets of students.
Why do I need to get all A’s in IGCSE?
Mindset #1: External reason
Because my parents want it. Because I need to get into this program.
Mindset #2: Internal reason
I get A’s because that is the highest grade there is. I am a person that does the best in everything I do. That is just who I am. Being the best is my identity.
At Pasxcel, I ensure via our unique method of teaching each student inherits mindset #2 from me and other teachers. We know that a student who builds this mindset will not only get the grades but also be extremely successful in life.
4. Equip them with organizational & planning skills
Once you have shaped their identity and given them the drive, the next thing you should give your children is skills to manage the most important resource in the world: time.
One of the first things I share with my students is that there are 168 hours in a week. There is plenty of time for everything if you plan it well. I teach them how to schedule according to the subjects that need the most attention to the one that needs the least attention. I can tell which subject is which after they have gone through Pasxcel’s Discovery Session with me.
After the Discovery Session, I sit down with parents and the student to help them set clear and measurable goals they can achieve in a timeline of their choice. Obviously going for ungraded to A* within a week is not possible. Going from D to A within 3 months is quite the norm at Pasxcel. Having clearly spelt out milestone along the way helps the student keep an eye on the prize.
5. Focus on the journey
Most people equate focusing on the journey to participation medals. No, I sincerely do not support the participation medal. That is not what I am championing.
I am a fanatic of daily improvements. I believe knowledge and skills are a lot like compound interest. It looks small on the first day or the 10th day but in a year it would have snowballed to the level you can’t even recognize.
By teaching your children (our students), to focus on the process, we mold determined and resilient young adults who will choose to focus on what is within their control. Every. Single. Time.
What you focus on grows. The more they focus on what they can control, the more they will be able to control.
Most importantly, this removes anxiety around results. Children will learn to shift their value system towards the process and not the end goal. They will realize that no matter what the results, they should give and will always do their best.
So how can you teach them to focus on the process? That brings us to the bonus point.
6. Create structure and routines
One of our student’s parent is amazing in this regard. Her boys have an extensive amount of physical activity they do on a daily basis combined with study and reading time. All these activities are clearly scheduled into their week. There is a strong structure to their days and weeks.
This serves two purposes. First, it gives her boys the identity that they are capable of achieving a diverse set of goals. Second, it signals to them that their identity is not tied down to how well their exam results are. Exams are just a part of the whole equation.
To build up the whole equation of a wholesome and robust individual, I usually tweak the balanced scorecard method to be customized to each student strength and weakness. Starting from the big goals, I work with them to backtrack to their daily routines. Parents who are not from consulting background can Google it up and make their own framework.
Those are the few things that I find would be more useful than scolding, guilt-tripping or worst still, giving a motivational speech to your teenager.