Parents, what can you do if your child performed badly in Matric?

Supporting a child who has failed Matric . Image: iStock

2020 was a year like no other, and other people took bigger knocks than others. Matric results are coming up, and while other students were able to cope with the big adjustments, others weren’t.

Matric failure, especially in public schools might be more widespread now than in previous years. The children’s inability to cope without classroom time, online learning, and under-resourced schools will all inevitably contribute to their overall pass rate of students in public schools.

For those students who will receive bad news, the disappointment will be equally shared by their parents. It is, however, advisable that parents manage their emotions well as to not negatively influence their children.

These are the practical ways parents can cope and help children who have failed their Matric.

Acknowledge that it is not about you

Educational Psychologist Kristen Lisa Strahlendorf says that parents have also been students for the last couple of years. The news of their children failing will be a knock on them as well. However, they need to note that this journey is about their children and not how their children’s failure will make them look. The latter may lead to heightened frustration and pressure which may lead to dire mental health consequences for the child.

For more articles, or to view your DBE matric results, click here. The results will be made available at 6am on 23 February 2021.

Speak to your children

Kristen says it’s important to speak to your children, and also hear what they are saying. Understanding how their results genuinely make them feel will help determine the next course of action. For matriculants “there has been a lot of anticipation around receiving their marks and you do not want to disappoint your parents,” she adds. They might, therefore, be experiencing a lot of confusing emotions all at once.

Encouraging them to open up about how they are feeling will set both child and parent up for success.

Help the identify learning gaps

Something went wrong, that much can be determined. Parents must help their children identify what those gaps were, and how they can be bridged. Your child could either get a tutor for a subject they struggled with, get more accustomed to online learning, and manage their time better the next time.

Online learning has been a big adjustment for many, with some struggling to adapt. Dr. Diana De Sousa, the Head of Teaching and Learning at SACAP says “by adopting and maintaining a growth mindset, being curious and open to different ways of learning and finding enjoyment in a supportive online learning community, you can lay a foundation for successful remote learning experiences.”

Remind them that there is a next time

Matric has a sense of finality for those who are going through it. This is why many of them write on their shirts and participate in all sorts of celebratory moments. This is the year they finally conclude their high schooling careers. Failing this stage in their lives may feel like the end of the world. They must be reminded of the falsity of this attitude. Life goes on after Matric, and this offers them a second chance at doing it again, and even better.

They can re-write their Matric, do a bridging or vocational course.

Seek professional help

Teens are usually very secretive and hardly open up about how they are feeling. Kristen recommends that “if you identify any red flags, it’s important that you ask your child if they are experiencing a problem. If they can’t talk to you, who in the community can they confide in.”

According to Esmarie Cilliers, a Registered Counsellor and Educator at the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) advises that parents be on the lookout for behavioural clues. These include:

  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Moodiness
  • Short temper
  • Frustration
  • Lethargy
  • Expressions of boredom

These are signs that your child is internalising their failure negatively and needs guidance.

Organisations such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group offer a Whatsapp line where people can talk to a qualified counsellor. They can be contacted on 076 882 2775.

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