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What’s more important: exam results or the final score?

Yahoo Lifestyle
4 March 2012

Tom Daley managed to fit in the studying he needed to achieve five A*s and two As in his GCSEs at the same time as becoming a world champion gold medalist.

It goes to show that if your child has a talent or drive that falls outwith their academic remit, it does not mean their education has to suffer. However, it can be difficult to know what is best for them - should they finish that maths worksheet or fit in another practice before a big game or performance?

 Talk to the school

If your child might be hitting Hollywood or performing at the Albert Hall soon then the first step to take is to talk to your child’s school. Arrange a face-to-face meeting to begin with and explain your hopes and any plans or arrangements that have been made to do with your child’s talent.

Mrs Nichols, a teacher from Chester, advises: “Any parent who thinks their child might miss school should get in contact and see what the school can do to help. We want your child to succeed and most schools will provide extra resources or assignments if your child needs them. You should also check the school’s policy on planned absence; some tolerate it, whilst others do not.” Be diplomatic and listen to what the teachers have to say because it’s in your child’s interest that you and the school have a strong and positive relationship.

Get creative

Between driving your child 150 miles to their next game and getting home at 10 o’clock at night after a hard training session, it can be extremely difficult to get a healthy academic-talent balance. However, it can be done, as 16 year-old Amy Potter proves. Amy managed to achieve 10 A* GCSEs whilst also being picked for the England netball squad. So it’s up to you to get creative when it comes to finding time.

You could buy some educational CDs or podcasts and do them with your child when you are travelling with them. You could also try to combine lessons with their training. For example, if your child plays football, place 12 balls in a line.  Then ask them maths questions like 12 divided by three. They can try to shoot in the correct answer using the balls.

Talk to other parents

If your child is gifted it can be difficult to talk about their progress to other parents. However, there will be other parents who are in a similar position. Joseph, a 36 year old dad to budding pianist Josh said: “It can get tough when your child is good at something. Other parents can get petty when they don’t understand your child and their gift. Finding other parents in a similar position was really helpful in the early years. We chatted to other kids parents at concerts and in the corridors when Josh had his tuition. Some of them are still good friends.”

Having a group of people who can help you through the highs, the lows and the unending doubts is a valuable resource well worth exploring.  Try to chat to as many people as possible, visit forums and invite people over for play dates with their kids too.

School rules

Doing school work can be an uphill battle. To overcome issues with homework show them that getting a good education is both necessary and important. Leanne from London found that explaining to her dancing daughter Becca that learning was a good thing helped her understand why she had to do homework.

“All Becca wanted to do was dance and I got fed up of arguing with her. In the end I decided to take a softer approach. I sat down with her when she did her homework and got really involved. I never did the work for her, but being there kept her focused. We ended up both enjoying homework time because really it was the only alone time we shared alone.”

However, psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos reminds us that: “it's wonderful to be able to encourage our kids to be more active and enriched, but I think it's important to remember that it's okay to step back sometimes and say 'no' to additional pressures”. So, remember you can’t achieve everything every time. Sometimes you must decide what is more important.” 

At the heart of Team Mum is the video series Raising an Olympian, sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, profiling athletes from across the world, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic Games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Watch the videos on Yahoo! Lifestyle Team Mum.

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