Leaving cert results advice for parents

Leaving cert results: advice for parents

That time of the year has approached again and the Leaving Cert results are set to be released on Wednesday the 16th of August. With that comes a whole range of emotions, from delight or despair– due to points and grades – to stress, worry or excitement about what’s to come next when the CAO offers come out.

Results day can be a joyous one for many, and the complete opposite for others, so it is best to be prepared for all possible outcomes. And remember, there is no right or wrong path to achieving goals and dreams, so keep that in mind for yourself and your child at this pivotal time in their life.

Leaving cert results – advice for parents.

Here are a few tips for dealing with results – both good and bad – and the days that follow.

Prepare a back-up plan

The Leaving Certificate, and the points games to secure a college place, can seem like the be all and end all when you’re in the midst of them, but there are plenty of back up routes to get the same end result.

First and foremost parents and students should discuss a back-up plan in advance, in the case that points aren’t achieved, or the desired course isn’t offered. There are plenty of other options available, and sitting down and discussing them with your child, while they are calm about it, will help you both to figure out what suits best.

If they did not recieve their first choice when the offers roll around, consider accepting an alternative course offered, or applying for re-check of scripts to potentially bring up the points they recieved. Many college places also become available after the first round of offers have been allocated, these are places that have not been filled by other students. Checking availabilty of these courses on the CAO website, and ensuring that they are infact interested in the course, could also be an option for your child.

Applying for PLC and Further Education courses are excellent stepping stones towards skilled employment, or further education. They often lead to FETAC awards, and some are linked to reserved places on higher education course.

Repeating the Leaving Cert is an option, that while not lightly taken can be a very realistic option, as long as the student is prepared and determined for another year at it. Remember you do not need to sit the same subjects again. Also you don’t have to retake subjects, which are specific requirements for particular colleges or courses, if the minimums are already obtained.

Avoid hype

Don’t over-speculate or spend too much time discussing results immediately after they come out. The final outcomes are not determined until the final round of CAO offers are out, and over discussion may only increase anxiety around the subject during an already worrisome period.

Also if your child does receive their first choice in the CAO offers, remember that while some are celebrating, others are disappointed. 

Be mindful of others

Leaving cert results advice for parents

As stated above, one person’s success, could also be another’s disappointment. Both parents and students should be mindful of others who may not have recieved the points they wished, or got into the course of their dreams.

Also remember that everyone has differing abilities, and what one student received may be a long way off the results of their peers, but to them it might be a real achievement because of personal circumstances. All students are different, so be sure to stay aware of this in the coming days and weeks, when all this talk of results and college is in full flow.

Choosing the right option

Talking with your child and listening to them about what they want to do after school, is the most important thing to have done before the Leaving Cert. Now during the waiting game for results and offers, be sure that you are choosing the right option for your family.

Don’t send your child off to college, just because you want them to go, or send them to a course you want them to do. If they are unsure of what they want to do after the Leaving Certificate, there are plenty of other options for school leavers.

Gap years can be a great option to allow them to travel and gain some life experience, and may help with deciding on a future career path, as well as developing valuable work skills. There are many websites and organisations to further research this on.


Even the most chilled out students can experience some stress and anxiety during the run-up to receiving their results. There is a lot of pressure to measure up to their peers, as well as to teachers, parents and their own expectations.

It is up to parents to reassure them that the results aren’t the end of the world, and that regardless of the outcome this is only one small step towards their future. Reaffirming that you are proud of them no matter the outcome, will help them face the road ahead.

Build their confidence up by focusing on their strengths and achievements. Remind them of their unique qualities, and help them towards self-belief in their own skills.

Control your own feelings

As a parent you may well have high hopes for your childs exam results, and what you want them to do after the Leaving Cert. However you can also be left disappointed when the results are not what you expected. Remember to keep your own feelings in check. Your child may not be showing it, but they are likely worried about what the future holds, and they will need your support to help them through this tough transitional time.

Leaving cert results advice for parents

“Every child is different and what is a great exam result for one seems like a failure to another. Some students put too much pressure on themselves and it is up to the parents to manage those expectations and help their child to understand that exam results are just one step on their path of life – not life itself. Of course there are other children that can’t be bothered with study and exams at all – so your job then is to helpfully encourage them to do the best they can and to find that alternative path they are looking for. One lesson we’ve all learned at this stage is that parenting is never straightforward!’

Kate Gunn, mum-of-three

When I received my results there was a lot of mixed emotion, I had a tough time with my mental health throughout the exams and I came out with better results than I had expected.  I was elated, but when the offers came around, I was five points short of my first choice.  Devastation struck, but I took the choice I had been offered of Journalism in DIT, and hoped for the best, knowing that there were options to transfer or to reapply the following year.  Four years later, I’ve got my journalism degree behind me, having made some amazing friends and had some unforgettable times along the way.  I feel a lot different to that girl who didn’t get what she wanted in the Leaving Cert, in the end it worked out in my favour!

Mary-Kate Hickey, Leaving Cert Year of 2013

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.


Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.