How to Help Your Child Choose GCSE options

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Choosing which GCSEs to sit is a difficult task. At 14, when most children are selecting them many just don’t know what they will want to do in the future, so limiting it by choosing particular qualifications seems extremely daunting. As the parent of the child who is struggling, you will naturally want to help. This really is the first major life decision that they will make and it is natural that you would want to be involved. We have set out some tips, these are things to think about when making the decision. Try and sit down together and run through them and see if they help you both come to a conclusion.

1. Consider what they enjoy and are good at

The key thing to remember is that even if they drop a subject now, it’s never too late. If they find they need it in the future they can always go back and sit it then. Sure, it’s more daunting but it is doable. To that effect, when they choose subjects it should be things that they enjoy and feel they can achieve it. There’s no point them studying PE, for instance, for 2 years if they absolutely hate it. It would just make them miserable and make the whole exam process at the end much more stressful. Choosing subjects that they enjoy will at least make the 2 years that it takes to study GCSEs much more enjoyable.

2. Think about their future study or career plans

If your child is lucky enough to be one of those people who know what they absolutely want to do in the future then you really should take this into account. If they want to be in medicine, for instance, then you should make sure they do every science GCSE available, if they want to be a dancer then they should consider doing PE. It might well be that your child doesn’t have a concrete idea what they want to do in the future but you might be able to offer them advice as to what areas they could be thinking about based on their aptitude and passions for certain areas. If they, for example, love travel, you might help them explore careers within the travel industry which could lead to them thinking about a geography GCSE or travel and hospitality if your school offers it. Remember that the future doesn’t have to be A-levels or university. Take a look at what is NVQ level 3 to get some ideas of what your child could go on to do once school is through.

3. Balance quality and quantity

Remember that your child doesn’t need to do every GCSE going. Even some of the top universities only consider A-level results, only looking at GCSEs if a course is over-subscribed. Encourage them to sit a number which feels comfortable and which will allow them to get the best results, without them overstressing. Just in case, you are really thinking about your options for their education right now, here’s a link to our post about considering whether boarding school is the right option for your child.

4. Focus on keeping options open for now rather than specialising

Try and study a broad range of subjects rather than specialising. This always helps you to keep your options open. Many schools have core subjects that they consider necessary for each child to do, always encourage your child to study just as hard for these as they do for those options that they choose.


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