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Parent’s Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Introduction

A-levels have been a qualification since the 1950s and have significantly changed since being introduced. They pave the way for higher education, work and adulthood and are a significant academic milestone. Back in 2015, the Department for Education, in a press release, suggested that a further £60,000 is added to a student’s wages over their lifetime if they go on to achieve at least 2 A-levels.

A-levels are harder than GCSEs, and some students find the big jump challenging. They are also adolescents who may also be coping with biological changes, sexual or identity issues and finding out who they are as people. Therefore, it can be a stressful and overwhelming time.

The support and encouragement of parents play a crucial role in helping students succeed. To help their teens, parents should understand what A-levels are about, why they are important and what they can do to help their teens while they undertake these qualifications.

This blog post aims to offer valuable insights, strategies, and tips for parents to navigate the challenges of A-level education, foster a conducive learning environment, and provide emotional support.

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Understanding the A-level Curriculum

Advanced-level qualifications (A-levels) are subject-based qualifications that some students may choose to do after they pass their GCSEs. They may stay on at their old school, start at a new school or go to college to complete them. Students take A-levels at key stage 5, usually between 16 and 18.

A-level qualifications apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has a different education system and qualifications. These are called Scottish Highers and are equivalent to A-levels. UCAS has further information on these qualifications here.

A-levels typically take two years to complete. They are often described as linear, which means that a student’s results in the final exams they take at the end of year 13 will determine their A-level grades.

AS-levels (year 12) are now standalone one-year qualifications, and students take their exams at the end of the year. They used to count towards an A-level, but this has changed after reforms. Students can carry on to do an A-level (A2) in their second year.

According to the National Careers Service, there are more than 40 A-level subjects to choose from. Some examples of subjects that students can undertake are on Wikipedia. A-level subjects can differ in difficulty level, with some deemed harder than others, e.g. maths, sciences, psychology, history and foreign languages. Here is some information on the easiest A-levels here.

Most students will choose three A-level subjects, but they can take more or fewer, depending on their future education and career aspirations. The entry requirements will depend on the individual school or college, but students will typically need the following to get onto A-level courses:

  • At least five GCSEs grades 9 to 4/A* to C.
  • At least grade 6 in the specific subject(s) a student wants to study.

For most A-level subjects, performance will be assessed by examinations but some subjects may have coursework assessments, e.g. art.

A-level grades are A*, A, B, C, D or E, with A* being the highest and E being the lowest. If a student does not pass, it will state ‘not classified’ on their results. These grades correspond to UCAS tariff points, which are important if a student wants to attend university. Each institution will have specific entry requirements and UCAS tariff points for courses.

The significance of A-levels in higher education

A-levels are important in education because they:

  • Provide students with an opportunity to study a subject they are interested in greater depth and to meet their specific goals.
  • Provide consistency to learning and examinations and give all students a level playing field.
  • Lay the foundation for higher and vocational education.
  • Help students develop essential life skills, such as communication, problem-solving, time management, organisational and critical thinking.
  • Help students to get a university placement if this is the route they want to take.
  • Increase employability, as it demonstrates to employers a commitment to further learning and skills development.
  • Give students a good indication of how well they would do before deciding on higher qualifications, such as diplomas and degrees.
Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Effective Communication and Open Dialogue

The transition from GCSEs to A-levels can be difficult for some teens, as they are undertaking a more complex qualification, which requires more work to succeed. They will also have less input from teachers/lecturers and will have to learn more independently. Therefore, they need to be able to communicate with their parents and vice versa.

It can be difficult for parents to get their teens to communicate with them about certain things, including education. However, this can be improved through open and honest communication, which means being clear, consistent, truthful and openly expressing thoughts and ideas without judgment or pressure.

If communication between parents and their teens is open and honest, it will:

  • Enable parents to understand their teen’s needs, feelings, thoughts, perspectives and behaviours.
  • Help parents build strong, healthy and trusting relationships with their teens, which can foster respect and mutual understanding.
  • Help teens know their parents care, are interested in their lives, understand their needs and are on their side.
  • Make teens feel validated, not judged and can boost their self-esteem and well-being.
  • Increase the likelihood of teens opening up to their parents and being more honest about their feelings and how things are going.
  • Enable them to identify ways to solve problems together, making parents feel included and teens less stressed, supported and cared for.
  • Help avoid misunderstandings, communication difficulties and conflicts and improve relationships.

Parents need to have an open dialogue with their teens during A-level time to foster a supportive and non-judgmental environment for discussing academic challenges and goals. Here are some examples of strategies that can help achieve this:

  • Try to talk at the right time and avoid saying, ‘Let’s talk’ or ‘I think it’s time we had a chat’, as they may think they are in trouble. Let them initiate conversations where possible or ask how things are to get them talking.
  • Ask questions, and don’t tell them. Open questions can initiate discussions as opposed to closed questions with yes/no answers, e.g. an open question would be ‘How is your studying or exam prep going?’ and a closed question would be ‘Have you done your assignments?’.
  • Be calm when asking questions and let them know they have support to help them through their difficulties, and not make it feel like an interrogation.
  • Actively listen, meaning paying full attention to them when they speak to ensure their message is fully understood before responding appropriately. Some useful active listening steps can be found on Psychology Today here.
  • Let them know they can ask for help if they need it and offer help without bugging them, e.g. ‘I will let you get on, but let me know if there is anything I can do’.
  • Be honest when expressing opinions and thoughts without being too forceful, and use words and gestures they will understand. Use partial agreements, e.g. ‘I agree that…But also I think…’.
  • Share experiences and challenges to find common ground, which may help alleviate their worry and concerns if they know someone else has had struggles.
  • Avoid scolding, criticising, lecturing, nagging, bickering or reacting, as it can shut down discussions and result in conflict. Be empathetic and try to understand things from their point of view and how they feel, which may help them to open up more.

The following websites have further tips on communicating with teens:

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Encouraging Independence and Responsibility

A-level qualifications require students to be more independent than when studying for their GCSEs. Independent learning, also known as student-centred learning, is where students take control, have ownership and are responsible for their own learning.

Promoting independence and responsibility in A-level students helps them to develop independent learning skills, which will be helpful if they decide to go to university, enrol on another type of course or start work. Higher education providers and employers look favourably at those who can work independently with minimal supervision.

Independent learning is also crucial for students, as it will:

  • Give them more autonomy and allow them to set their own learning goals and monitor their performance to see where improvements are needed.
  • Allow them to find out what they are most interested in. It enables them to decide on what they want to learn and the topics to explore in depth relating to the A-level subjects chosen.
  • Assist them in identifying ways to learn that suit them better and what works and does not.
  • Help develop crucial skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, resilience, self-management, creative thinking and self-discipline.
  • Increase motivation, organisation and engagement and build self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Help them to identify their strengths, weaknesses and limitations and how to manage them.
  • Help them to take the initiative and seek further advice and guidance if they need support or help with learning outcomes or how to improve.
  • Facilitate learning and improve academic performance.

Students must be allowed to take ownership of their studies and decisions. Some ways parents can help with this are as follows:

  • Discuss independent learning with them, why it is crucial, and how to start.
  • Allow them to set achievable goals and support them to achieve them themselves.
  • Provide them with an environment, resources, structure and routine that encourages and fosters learning and where they can be autonomous.
  • Do not micromanage or help them with all their studying and assignments, as they will need to figure out things for themselves to get the most out of their learning.
  • Wait for them to ask for help, but still provide support if needed.
  • Help them to consider alternative ways of doing things if their current methods are not working as expected.
  • Encourage them to go to their teacher/lecturer if they need help or advice, which will improve their communication skills.
  • Provide them the freedom to study and do their assignments and prepare for exams in a way they see fit.
  • Use positive reinforcement, i.e. use rewards if they are working hard and doing well to encourage positive behaviours and motivate them.
  • Do not be afraid to let them make mistakes, risks and even fail, as it is part of learning and encourages them to be resilient and persevere.
Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Creating a Positive Study Environment

Teens will require a place to study at home. It can be a designated room or space within a room, e.g. their bedroom. According to Younas et al. 2020, the home environment is considered one of the significant factors affecting learners’ performance and academic achievement. The home study environment can include many things, such as decor, layout, space, lighting, noise, seating, desks, temperature and overall comfort.

To help teens feel motivated and engaged, parents should help them set up a positive study environment that is organised, calm, well-lit, comfortable and where they can concentrate with minimal distractions. A positive study environment is more conducive to learning and helps with student’s focus, information retention and goal achievement.

Here are some tips on how parents can help their teens create a positive study environment:

  • Provide a dedicated study space – they should have a reasonably sized space within the home where they can concentrate and study safely with minimal distractions. Parents should set rules that the rest of the family must follow, e.g. no entry at certain times.
  • Involve them in setting up the space – ask them for their input on what they would like in the space and how they would like it to be so they feel like it is their own and are more likely to use it. Ask for suggestions on colour, set-up, furniture, etc.
  • Provide appropriate resources for studying – they will need access to various things to effectively learn, e.g. desk, chair, additional lighting and heating, laptop/computer, software, internet, stationery, books, healthy snacks, etc.
  • Encourage organisation – the study space should be clean, tidy, organised and free from clutter. Items needed for studying should be accessible and easy to find. Suggest a cleanup of the space before they start to get into a routine.
  • Comfort is key – they should be comfortable when studying, as it can improve concentration and help them retain information. A comfortable chair with a backrest will ensure they keep a good posture along with a well-equipped and set-up desk. Studying on beds should be discouraged.
  • Give them environmental control – they should be able to adjust the temperature, lighting and noise within their study space to make them comfortable. They should be encouraged to use natural lighting and ventilation (i.e. opening windows) wherever possible.
  • Reduce distractions – locate their study space where they are unlikely to be disturbed and minimise other noise within the house. Remove any technology from their study space that may distract them while learning.

Importance of balancing study and leisure

A-levels are more demanding than GCSEs, even though there are fewer subjects. It can be stressful for students, especially when doing assignments and preparing for exams. Therefore, they need to get a balance between studying and leisure.

Teens must have regular breaks and leisure time for the following reasons:

  • It decreases anxiety and stress.
  • It enhances mood and boosts energy.
  • It can have physical benefits, e.g. lower cortisol and blood pressure levels.
  • It facilitates concentration and helps with memory and information retention.
  • It increases motivation, engagement, creativity and productivity.
  • It helps with time management and self-discipline.

If teens do not have sufficient breaks from studying, it can result in:

  • Physical issues, especially back and neck.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Tiredness and fatigue.
  • Reduced concentration and focus.
  • Stress.
  • Mental exhaustion.
  • Burnout.
  • Difficulty retaining information.
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Teens must have regular breaks and time off to do leisure activities to recharge and feel refreshed and energised when they return to their studies. Maintaining a healthy balance between study and leisure time will help promote overall health, well-being and academic success.

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Support with Time Management and Organisation

Time management and organisation means effectively using time, energy and resources to achieve success and meet academic goals. They are two essential skills that help A-level students study, do assignments and prepare for exams. These skills are also sought after by employers, which will help them to get jobs and succeed in their future careers.

As A-level students will have increased independent learning, managing time effectively and being organised is crucial. Parents can help their teens develop and improve effective time management and organisational skills by various means, and some of the following strategies may help:

  • Organise the study space – encourage them to have a clean and tidy study space and an organised computer filing system so they know where things are. It will minimise time wasted looking for missing items, paperwork and files.
  • Break down tasks – suggest they break down their tasks into smaller components and put them into steps. Tasks will seem more manageable if they complete them one step at a time.
  • Be SMART with goals – help them to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals and encourage them to start with short-term and smaller goals, e.g. ‘write 400 words of the introduction for the assignment by 5 pm today’. It is better than larger ambiguous goals, such as ‘complete my biology assignment today’.
  • Prioritise tasks – encourage them to prioritise and focus on the more important and urgent tasks, especially if they are more complex. They could list their tasks, put the priority ones at the top and tick them off once complete.
  • Create daily routines – help teens establish and stick to day-to-day routines, including study, regular breaks and leisure time. Routines reduce stress and improve focus, productivity and well-being.
  • Have regular breaks – suggest they have 5-10 minute breaks after every 20-25 minutes of studying (BBC Bitesize) to stay focused and refreshed. Having regular breaks is essential for good time management.
  • Use positive reinforcement – reward them when they complete tasks on time and achieve specific goals. Rewards include praise, positive feedback, encouragement, gifts, treats, days out, time off chores, going out with friends, etc. Rewards reinforce good time management and organisation, so teens continue developing these skills.
  • Use time management tools – recommend various time management tools to help them manage their time effectively, stay organised and meet deadlines. Some examples of tools include:
    • Revision timetables.
    • Student planners, e.g. Gantt Chart.
    • Calendars.
    • To-do-lists.
    • Apps, e.g. time tracker.
    • The Pomodoro Technique.
    • Action Priority Matrices.
    • Task breakdown.
    • Interruptions logs.

Time management tools have many benefits. They can:

  • Save time on planning, as students will know which tasks they must do daily, which gives them clear goals.
  • Make tasks seem more manageable if broken down.
  • Help students prioritise tasks, increase their focus and productivity and minimise stress.
  • Prevent procrastination and time being wasted.
  • Help students keep on top of their work and meet deadlines.

Parents should guide their teens on effectively using time management tools in their routines. There are plenty of free tools and examples online.

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Recognising and Managing Stress

There is no doubt that studying for A-levels can be stressful. Stress is “the feelings that people experience when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to cope” (Anxiety UK). A-levels are demanding as students have to learn independently, the content is more complex, and the deadlines tend to be stricter than GCSE level.

Stress is not always a bad thing. It can actually be good and have benefits. It can help students be more resilient, alert, and motivated and improve their concentration, focus and learning. However, prolonged stress and teens feeling they cannot cope with the pressure can lead to negative impacts, such as poor performance and grades and even physical and mental health issues.

Stress affects people in different ways. What might cause stress in one student may not bother another. Some common sources of stress for A-level students are as follows:

  • Falling behind due to heavy workloads and tight deadlines.
  • Difficulties with specific assignments, not knowing how to complete them or leaving it too late to work on them.
  • Feeling unprepared or not ready for their exams, especially if they have left their revision too late or not done as well as they thought in previous tests and exams.
  • Concerned about what will happen during exams and how they feel and perform.
  • Pressure from parents, guardians, teachers/lecturers, peers, social media and even themselves to get particular grades.
  • Worried about not getting good results and not getting into the university they want and how it can affect their future.

Stress can occur:

  • During studying.
  • When working on assignments.
  • While preparing for exams.
  • Leading up to exams.
  • On exam day.
  • Waiting for exam results.

Parents can identify stress in their teens by looking out for the following signs (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Insomnia.
  • Irritable, tearful, frustrated, restless, agitated or angry.
  • Worried, anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, fearful or hopeless.
  • Complaining of nausea, dizziness and headaches.
  • Getting sick a lot.
  • Poor attendance.
  • Declining grades.
  • Social isolation.
  • An increase in negative talk.
  • Tiredness, exhaustion, and not wanting to get out of bed.
  • Not taking sufficient breaks.
  • Loss of appetite or overeating.
  • Avoiding studying, assignments and revising.
  • A lack of motivation and concentration.
  • Self-neglect.
  • Personality changes.
  • Not enjoying the activities they used to enjoy.
  • Crying and low mood.
  • Confused, forgetful and struggling to make decisions.

Chronic stress, if left untreated, can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and can have physical effects, e.g. high blood pressure, weakened immunity and obesity.

Parents can help their teens manage stress effectively by encouraging them to:

  • Set realistic goals, take regular breaks and make time for leisure.
  • Create a study timetable, schedule or to-do list to help prioritise studying and leisure activities.
  • Talk about their worries and fears. Parents must actively listen to their concerns.
  • Start assignments and revision early, and don’t cram.
  • Know it is perfectly normal to feel worried about their A-levels.
  • Ask for further help with their studying or exam worries, including from a teacher/lecturer or counsellor, where necessary.
  • Start small if they have difficulty getting motivated, as something is better than nothing.
  • Use past papers, examiner reports and mark schemes, which are helpful to see what previous students did well and any mistakes they could have avoided. These are on exam board websites.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Get plenty of exercise, e.g. jogging, cycling, walking and sports.
  • Relax before bedtime by not studying, watching television or looking at mobile phones for at least 30 minutes.
  • Get plenty of sleep, i.e. between 8-10 hours a night.
  • Not worry if they miss goals or fail at something; use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

It is also important for parents not to put added stress on their teens, especially when they are doing assignments and leading up to exam time. They should be flexible around chores and try not to say the wrong thing, i.e. ‘you won’t get on that university course if you do not do well’. Parents should also set a good example and stay calm.

Parents can also help to manage their teen’s stress by using positive reinforcement and giving them something to look forward to after exams, whether they do as well as expected or not. They can also recommend some stress-reduction techniques, such as:

  • Relaxation, e.g. mindfulness, meditation, muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises.
  • Spending time outside in nature.
  • Yoga or pilates
  • Being around animals.
  • Starting a new creative hobby, e.g. drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, etc.
  • Journaling, i.e. writing down feelings and thoughts.
  • Self-care, i.e. encouraging young people to look after their own bodies and minds. Tips are on YoungMinds, NHS Self-Help Tips and NHS Every Mind Matters.
  • Playing video games, online games or board games.
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs and reducing caffeine intake.

Further information on stress and some helpful tips and resources are on:

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Seeking Additional Resources and Support

Some teens may need extra help and support when studying for their A-levels, doing assignments and revising for exams. There are many additional resources parents could consider. Here are some examples.

Tutors

Tutors supplement a young person’s education, help A-level students succeed academically and provide additional support where needed.

There are many types of tutors, such as academic subjects, exam prep, assignment help, special education, etc. The method of tuition delivery can also vary, e.g. one-to-one, group, in-person, online or at a learning centre.

Tutor qualifications, experience and fees vary widely, so parents need to choose the right tutor to meet the needs of their teens.

A-level study and revision groups

There are in-person and online study and revision groups where students can meet others to discuss their A-levels and get support and tips. One example is The Student Room, which has an online forum.

Students can join a one-to-one study group where they work with another student or a large study group with many teens. They can also form their own if they cannot find a suitable one to join and use apps, such as WhatsApp or social media groups.

Online learning platforms and apps

Online learning platforms and apps can help young people study for their A-levels and prepare for their exams. There are many examples out there, but here are a few:

Social media groups and forums

Many A-level help and support groups for students and parents are on social media platforms and forums, such as X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Mumsnet, and the Student Room.

Teachers and counsellors

If A-level students need further academic support, they can go to their teachers/lecturers or school/college counsellors. They all have important roles when it comes to helping students.

Teachers/lecturers

  • They will create courses based on the exam board requirements and student needs.
  • They provide lectures, seminars, online classes and fieldwork for students.
  • They will set assignments and exams and assess students’ progress.
  • They will help students prepare for their A-levels and examinations, e.g. revision techniques and exam practice.
  • They will encourage struggling students to access support, e.g. counselling, if they cannot help.
  • They provide less support than teachers at GCSE level but can take on a personal tutor role to help students with academic difficulties.

School/college counsellors

  • They promote and improve young people’s mental health, emotional resilience and well-being.
  • They support teens’ academic and emotional development in a sixth-form school/college environment.
  • They address any barriers or issues affecting academic performance, including home and social life, and help young people identify their own solutions to overcome them.
  • They can also offer various talking therapies, such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, to provide a safe, confidential space for teens to explore and understand their thoughts and feelings.

Parents should encourage their teens to ask teachers/lecturers or school/college counsellors (where available) for additional help and support.

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Setting Realistic Expectations

When parents have high expectations of their teens, it helps them believe in themselves and reach their full potential. Research has shown a positive relationship between parental expectations and adolescents’ academic performance (Ma et al. 2018). It is known as the Pygmalion effect or Rosenthal effect where high expectations can lead to improved performance.

While it may be beneficial for parents to have high expectations of their teens, it is also vital for them to be realistic for the following reasons:

  • It minimises stress in teens and boosts their mental health and well-being.
  • It helps teens to develop self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of self-worth.
  • It allows teens to focus on what they have achieved rather than what they have not, giving them a sense of accomplishment.
  • It considers where they are now and not where they should be. Learning is a journey, and A-levels are only a part of it.

Unrealistic expectations can lead to young people feeling stressed, frustrated, disappointed and a failure. Over time, it can result in low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, and even mental health issues. All adolescents are individuals with different needs and abilities. Some may learn very quickly, and others may take a little longer. Therefore, it is essential for parents to help them set achievable goals and have realistic expectations.

Achieving high grades is something to aspire to. However, it is not the be-all and end-all. Parents should focus on their teen’s efforts, progress, strengths and interests rather than solely on grades. They should encourage their teen to look forward and understand that there are many options if they do not get the grades they want.

While some universities and employers will want individuals with specific grades, others will look for certain skills and qualities, which often come with experience. There are many examples of students who did not achieve high grades at A-level due to other factors outside their control but eventually got a good undergraduate and even a postgraduate degree.

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Navigating University and Career Choices

During the second year of their A-levels, students must think about what they want to do next, although it can be wise to consider their options before this. Some may choose to go to a university to undertake an undergraduate degree, e.g. BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) and will need to:

  • Decide on which course they would like to do and at which university. There are many different subjects and universities to choose from.
  • Register and apply with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
  • Accept an offer if one is made. Universities may make conditional offers based on results.
  • Not panic if they don’t get the grades to meet their conditional offer, as they can go through clearing.

UCAS has a wealth of information on applying to university here.

Students do not have to go to university, and there are many other pathways they can choose after their A-levels, such as:

  • Foundation degrees – are great for students who are unsure whether they want to do a full degree and want to concentrate on a particular job. They are equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelor’s degree and typically last for two years. There are options to continue for another year and get a full degree. Also, Higher National Diploma (HND) and Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) options are available at the same qualification level.
  • Vocational courses – are practical qualifications, such as NVQs, BTECs, T Levels, higher national certificates (HNCs), Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals. They are at different levels and focus on specific jobs, such as childcare and engineering. Some schools and colleges offer these as course options.
  • Apprenticeships – are paid opportunities where young people can learn job-specific skills and work alongside experienced staff. There are many apprenticeships at various levels, and a search facility is available on UK to find opportunities. The Armed Forces, e.g. the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the British Army, also have apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Internships and traineeships – some employers may take on young people as interns and train them on the job. Look on job or company websites for opportunities. There are also traineeships, i.e. courses with work experience that will help young people prepare for work or an apprenticeship. Further information is on UK.

There are also options to re-sit A-levels or do additional ones, apply for jobs, volunteer, or undertake further training while working part-time. Teens should look at job advertisement websites and organisation’s career pages.

Teens must be able to make their own choices when deciding what to do after their A-levels. Parents can help support them in making these decisions, but they should not impose their own decisions on their teens.

If a young person knows what type of career they want, e.g. a doctor, dentist or vet, then it will be more straightforward, as these careers will require specific qualifications and experience. If a young person is unsure as to what they want to do after their A-levels, here are some tips on how parents could help them:

  • See if they want to go into higher education or start work. There are also options to do both, i.e. study and work part-time.
  • Get them to think about their interests and if they relate to specific careers, i.e. if they want to help animals, they could consider veterinary courses.
  • Ask them what subjects they enjoyed studying the most at A-level and see if higher education courses are available in these areas.
  • Look at how they coped with A-level assignments and exams. A coursework-based qualification, such as an NVQ, may be better if they do not like exams.
  • Arrange for them to see a career advisor or expert. The National Careers Service also has a careers helpline for teenagers, and the information is here.

There is further guidance on BBC Bitesize on how parents can support and advise their teens on future careers.

Transitioning from GCSEs to A-Levels

Celebrating Achievements and Encouraging Resilience

Parents should acknowledge and celebrate their teen’s achievements and successes with enthusiasm, no matter how small they are, because it:

  • Demonstrates that their parents are interested in their lives and recognise their achievements.
  • Positively reinforces desired behaviours with praise and encouragement, motivating them to work towards their next success.
  • Encourages them to do well and believe that they can, which can increase their feelings of self-worth.
  • Improves their self-confidence and self-esteem and makes them feel valued.

Achievements are not just good exam results, high grades and prizes; they are also the effort a young person puts into learning and their hard work and perseverance. It is also where they manage to complete an assignment they found difficult.

Parents should encourage their teens not to look at their A-levels as successes and failures but as part of their learning journey. Young people are more likely to become demoralised and give up if their achievements are black and white and they do not do as well as anticipated in their exams.

Setbacks, disappointments and challenges are a part of life; everyone experiences them to varying degrees. Parents need to teach their teens to be resilient, as this will help them not to give up when the going gets tough but to carry on and persevere.

Parent's Guide to Supporting A-Level Students

Conclusion

While studying for A-levels, doing assignments and preparing for exams is a challenging and stressful time for young people, parents can help by understanding more about these qualifications and being active participants in their teen’s A-level journey. It will also help them to build relationships with their teens based on trust and mutual respect.

While parents want the best for their teens and want them to excel in life, they must allow them to take control of their own learning and steer their own course when it comes to their own futures. However, they must provide the necessary environment and resources at home and offer unwavering support, guidance, and understanding to help them succeed.

Parents can significantly influence their teen’s education and have positive or negative impacts. Their involvement is vital in their teen’s academic success, learning, development and overall well-being. Therefore, parents should be involved in their teen’s education and guide and support them to make decisions that will lay the foundation for higher education and their future careers.

Please use the comments section to share experiences, questions, or additional tips for supporting A-level students. Use this space to foster a supportive and informative community of parents and caregivers.

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