Always remember, the Junior Certificate, though important, is but a stepping-stone in a student’s educational journey.
Changes can be made; strengths can be built on; and weaknesses examined, explained, and reviewed. Handled wisely, Junior Certificate results are a marvellous opportunity for parent and student discussion and review. And if necessary, parent, student, and school discussion and review.
Should Junior Certificate results be a worry, then clear action needs to be taken. Think back over school parent-teacher meetings. What were they like? Do you remember your young student experiencing difficulty, especially in English, mathematics, or languages, even in primary school?
Ignored, academic problems never simply go away. Ignored, subject difficulties undermine a student’s confidence and competence. They can also deprive a student of the vital foundation to successfully continue a subject to honours Leaving Certificate level, and, sometimes, even at ordinary level.
With individual support and encouragement, a student may be able to build a competence and confidence in specific subjects, thereby keeping vital career options open. Never assume a subject is lost. Always enquire, while also recognising that individual students can have strong subject preferences and dislikes. This also needs to be taken into account.
Strong Junior Certificate results can be wonderful and encouraging for a young student and his/her family, but care needs to be taken not to burden such a student with automatic presumption of easily achieved high Leaving Certificate results. All results take work.
Subject levels change dramatically at Leaving Certificate, still requiring strong students to receive support and care throughout their Leaving Certificate years.
Setting a goal
Whether a student achieves a strong or a worrying Junior Certificate, it can be a great relief for a young student to have a real sense of possible or achievable career options or pathways ahead.
Such knowledge can transform a student’s participation and performance in school. It is worth creating the time for such a discussion
Such a career plan need not be rigidly specific. A broad picture that speaks to a young person of his/her own personality, ability, and suitability can release a powerhouse of energy and input in many students.
For those students who have gone straight ahead to their Leaving Certificate cycle, it is still important to evaluate and re-evaluate subjects they have already chosen. Be particularly aware of specific subject requirements for future college courses.
Where possible, a student needs to retain the maximum number of honours level subjects at Leaving Certificate, while also recognising the necessity to sometimes study a subject at ordinary level.
Whatever the level, a student will need to make an early commitment to achieve his/her maximum best in each of his/her subjects, with a clear understanding of how this may be achieved.
Should a student have chosen to do a transition year programme in school, then equal care and attention needs to be given to Junior Certificate results, with a view to understanding and rebuilding any weaknesses. And to keeping strong subjects strong.
There are many websites that can provide broad information and support to students and parents throughout the Leaving Certificate years. Such websites include: www.cao.ie, www.qualifax.ie, www.careersportal.ie, and www.examinations.ie
Individual institutes and universities have their own websites with detailed information of their courses. It also helps to try to attend some open days and career talks. The more information each student and parent acquires and understands, the easier will future decisions and choices become.
There is nothing more beneficial for students than the gift of being able to do their homework the night they get it, and the ability and the environment to structure a regular pattern of study. Helping a student to do this will avoid much worry and future disappointments.
If necessary, consider the possibility of supervised school study, should home be a place of distraction. Try to have this in place by Halloween at the latest.
Student happiness plays a key role in the overall performance and success of all students. So again, used wisely, Junior Certificate results can be a wonderful opportunity to open a discussion with your young student as to his/her personal and academic happiness.
Listen. Be alert. An unhappy student will always find school and exams an added pressure. So, where possible, create and make changes.
Speak with your student’s school. If necessary, seek help outside of school. But never give up, on any student, on his/her future, or present, and above all, on their dreams. And equally so on your own dreams for your own child.
Marie Barrett is founder of MBCS, Marie Barrett Career Services, Loughrea. She is author of The Education Guide and contributes to national and local radio education programmes. MBCS works individually with second-level students and parents in student career, study and education planning. Contact: 091 841424/086 2359751/[email protected]