Dec 26

Tips To Help Your Teen Choose Their GCSE Options

Your teen might feel lost about what choice to make, especially if they don’t have any future career plans at present.

The path to choosing the best GCSE courses is a balance of enjoyment, future career plans and how your teenager works best. Getting the right mix can feel like a challenge, especially when there are so many options to choose from.

Our guide below gives you some starting points on what to consider when helping your child choose their GCSE courses.

Let’s take a look.

Work out what they enjoy

First and foremost, education should be fun. Choosing subjects that your teen enjoys will benefit them far more than picking GCSEs they feel they ‘should’ be taking, only to not be interested from the start.

Take a look at any achievements they’ve had in certain subjects. If it’s clear they have a flair for a topic, then it would be a natural choice to carry on learning that subject at GCSE level.

You may not necessarily agree with your child’s decisions and what they enjoy, but it’s important to be supportive at all stages. As long as they’re balanced with any future career paths your child might want to take, then choosing a subject they enjoy will have a positive impact on their learning experience.

Look at the course criteria

If you think your child might struggle with exams at the end of the year all taking place at once, then perhaps a balance of coursework and exams would be best for them.

Another factor will be your teen’s timetable. Choosing a lot of coursework-heavy options will create a lot of work throughout the school year, which may leave them feeling frazzled if they have other extracurricular activities scheduled.

You know your child best. If you think they’d do better in courses that focus more on coursework and presentations over exams, you can steer them in the right direction.

Speak to their teachers

Your teen’s teachers will have a good idea of what subjects your child excels in. They also have specialist advice and experience in helping students and parents alike with knowing which GCSE subjects to choose. If you’re looking for advice, it’s well worth turning to them to get their opinion on how your child would perform in certain subjects.

If your child enjoys a topic but your teacher thinks they may struggle with the demands of the course, you should have a conversation with them. Have a chat with your teenager about whether this is a fleeting fancy or their interest is here to stay.

Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn will go a long way if they enjoy what they’re studying, but if this is a passing fad they may quickly feel overwhelmed with the coursework and exams.

Think about the future

It’s never too early to start thinking about future careers and how your teen’s GCSE options will affect them going forward.

Some kids will already know what they want to do with their life and have a career picked out. In this case, it’s simply a case of checking what kind of GCSEs they’ll need to start their path into that line of work and choosing those subjects.

Make sure your child picks one or two options that they’re curious about, or enjoy but isn’t related to their future career – it’s important to have diversity where possible.

To some teens, thinking about the future can be a really scary process. It may cause them to retreat inwards or panic about what subjects they should choose. Offer reassurance each time the topic comes up and try to work through any concerns they may have. An open conversation will make a big difference in making your teen feel confident in their choices.

What to avoid

There are some pitfalls teenagers and parents alike should avoid falling into when going through the process of picking out GCSE courses.

Choosing what their peers are doing

Teenagers are easily influenced, and so may put popularity or following the crowd over their own best interests. What their peers and friends are choosing for their GCSEs may sway your child’s own decisions.

Just because their best friend is going to be in the class isn’t a good enough reason for a teen to pick a course. Likewise, a favourite teacher might be running the course but your teen doesn’t particularly enjoy the subject.

It’s important to step in here and be the voice of reason. A level-headed discussion about what subject is best for them, and a gentle reminder that they can see their friends on breaks, may be the ticket.

Putting on pressure

Every parent wants their child to do well in their exams, but putting pressure on them early on creates a culture of anxiety around their performance.

Knowing when and how to balance schoolwork with leisure looks different to everyone, but is vital to success in GCSEs – and picking the courses that best suit your child will play into that.

Picking easy subjects to avoid work

It’s one thing for teenagers not to overload themselves with difficult subjects, but it’s another thing altogether when they’re thinking of choosing GCSEs just because they’re ‘easy’.

If you think this might be happening, have an honest conversation with your child about why they’re choosing GCSEs that won’t challenge them. They may have some self-confidence issues that need to be addressed in order to reach their full potential.

Identifying the issue sooner rather than later will help your child immeasurably with their GCSEs and later life.

Final thoughts

Choosing the right GCSE courses is a big step for any teenager onto their path towards higher education. Our guide will help you to have open and productive conversations with your child about their future.

Remember that your teen values your opinions, so remaining open and positive is key to any discussion about GCSEs.

Our qualified and experienced GCSE tutors can help your teen the confidence and knowledge they need to succeed in their exams.