‘Class of 2020’ sounded very different at the start of the year for Year 11s: excitement at the start of a new decade, the chance to do their utmost in GCSE exams, and the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and fun of summer afterwards.
Except ‘Class of 2020’ – as it has transpired – has significant connotations and disappointments attached to it. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant that academic and social structures had to shut down. Lockdown happened. Teaching face-to-face stopped. Exams were cancelled. Teenagers never got to complete their work or see if they could reach their academic ambitions. Neither did they get to party afterwards.
Through no fault of their own, during Covid-19, Year 11 pupils never sat the exams they had been preparing for. This may be have come as a relief to some who didn’t care about missing out on exams and were comfortable about whatever results they achieved. But, for others, not being able to take exams because of coronavirus might have felt devastating:
- Why have I been deprived of the chance to show how good I can be?
- Why didn’t I revise harder for my mocks to get better predictive grades?
- Why is that final grade decision is in the hands of others?
- Why am I missing out on all the awesome stuff I was meant to enjoy after putting in all the effort to pass GCSEs?
- Will anyone even take my GCSE results seriously when I didn’t really pass them?
Not only that, but teenagers didn’t get to mix with their peers at precisely the time when they’re supposed to. This is the developmental stage when they separate from their parents and forge stronger emotional bonds with friends their age and lifestyle. That’s hard to do when in lockdown with the family they’re meant to be separating from.
When it comes to the Year of 2020, we suggest NOT saying the following…
“You’ll have other proms.”
One of the cruellest things to do to a teenager is deprive them of the chance to socialise with their peers. Add the kicks to that deprivation is your teen then can’t attend a supreme social situation that they have been playing out in their head for years – and maybe even bought a special outfit for? That hurts. There will be NO OTHER Year 11 prom for Year 2020. There will only be regret and sadness that they never got to say goodbye properly to good friends. Try to understand that and accept the grief they’re feeling at missing out on all their goodbyes.
“GSCEs don’t matter in the grand scheme of things anyway.”
This type of phrase is probably said to help the teen cope. But ultimately it sounds as though you’re dismissing their concerns. GCSE exams matter for the person taking them, and the results can have a huge impact on a person’s life going forward. Don’t look at the issue from your far distant perspective. Your teen needs to know you take them seriously.
“It wasn’t like this in my day.”
Whether you are academically gifted or otherwise, no teenager wants to feel compared with your progress at school. They especially don’t want to have to feel challenged by you. They have enough to deal with by feeling they need to keep up with friends. Put your experience in the background. Put your teen’s experience in the foreground. Make them the priority.
“Don’t be so lazy.”
Whoa! Lockdown has zapped the motivation of so many people. A teen is no exception. Let your teen laze in the bedroom if that’s what they need to do today. You can also work with them to discuss what other activities they may want to engage in, even if they kick back and reject suggestions.
As a parent, you have a lot to deal with: parenting a teenager can be sunshine one moment and stormy the next. Meeting your teenagers where they are is always the best option. They’re going through so much cognitively and emotionally and you need to be patient and open and accepting, whether that comes naturally or not. They may be feeling a mixed bag of emotions when they receive their results. Be as supportive and encouraging as you can.
If you or your teenager could benefit from support to help you work your way through GCSE results season and beyond, give us a call on 020 8673 4545. We have sessions available seven days a week from our Clapham and Tooting centres – as well as phone and online video sessions. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org