Exams. They’re the source of much debate in schooling systems the world over.
At Head Held High, many of our students sit Trinity speech and drama exams in the latter stages of each year. (See our related blog post, 7 reasons to sit Trinity speech & drama exams). Many of our students also sit Speech NZ exams.
Contrary to the way you may imagine students approaching academic exams at school, our students approach their speech and drama exams with a sense of excitement, anticipation and eagerness.
Why is that?
We think it’s because although obtaining a satisfying exam result is rewarding in its own right, we believe the journey is more important than the destination. So, we do all that we can to make the exam preparation phase fun, relaxed, and non-rushed.
How you can help
Our results speak for themselves. Across our nearly 9 years of operation and thousands of exam students, we are proud of our Distinction Grade average across all exams taken!
But as teachers we don’t do it alone! And that’s why we wrote this blog post.
Parental and family support is such an important ingredient in the recipe for an enjoyable exam experience for our students. Many parents ask us questions about how they can support what their children are doing in lessons, at home.
We love that so many of our parents are so enthusiastic about helping their children prepare for Trinity speech and drama exams. So, here are some ways to make that journey easier for your child.
Practice makes perfect
There’s a reason it’s a cliche… practice is crucial for success in all facets of life. Trinity speech and drama exams are no exception. Trinity examiners do their best to make sure that the testing environment is welcoming and as stress-free for the students. The best relaxant however, is walking into an exam feeling practiced and well prepared.
As parents, the best thing you can do is simply get your children to perform their exam pieces for you as often as possible (we recommend every day) during the holidays.
A note for parents with children involved in a group or pair exam… Having a playdate or two to rehearse in the weeks prior to exams is a fantastic idea. (Otherwise you can enjoy playing the other character(s) so your child has their lines memorised perfectly!)
Actually… perfect practice makes perfect
To add to the point above, it’s important that students bring a certain level of quality to their practicing. In short – there’s no sense in practicing something incorrectly, no matter how often you practice it.
So as parents, there’s a lot of value in having a copy of your child’s exam piece in front of you to check that they have memorised their pieces correctly while they’re performing them.
Add energy and enthusiasm
It’s unreasonable to expect you as a parent to be able to give feedback about the technical speech and drama aspects of how your child is performing their piece. That’s our job!
Some feedback that you can give though, without needing technical expertise, is to make sure that your child is performing his/her work with as much expression as possible.
Vocal and facial expression go a long way to nailing an exam result your child will be proud of. Your child’s concentration however (especially in the early phases of learning their exam piece) may be on simply memorising their lines. This can mean they don’t have excess focus to put into how much expression they’re adding to their delivery.
You can be really helpful to your child’s preparation by giving gentle and positive feedback about the level of expression that is (or isn’t) being used when they’re practicing in front of you.
Some tips for parents of senior and/or students
At Head Held High, students Year 9 and above are classisifed as senior students. As you would expect, senior students learn advanced pieces to perform in exams. Operating at such a high level, they even keep us on our toes as teachers, so we don’t expect parents to be able to ‘coach’ them on the finer points of their preparation.
Your senior students will all know their pieces and be confident in the theory side of their exams from the time we spend with them in lessons.
So, the best way for you to help them is to please ask them about what they been learning and ask them to give you examples of how they are applying their theory in their pieces and performances.
Be encouraging and positive
It’s a foundation of our teaching methodology at Head Held High to teach with positivity and encouragement. To have parents who echo that at home while helping them prepare for exams is invaluable to students.
The first step is just to talk to your child about his/her piece and get him/her to tell you about the characters, stories, and what they think the meaning and mood of each piece is.
Then, once you’ve shown your child how interested you are in their exam preparation, simply give them loads of praise for all their hard work and the improvement they’re showing in each practice performance they give you.
Exams CAN be enjoyable
To sum it all up, exam time at Head Held High is considerably different from what you’re probably used to during exam time at school.
We see it year in and year out – the tangible joy and satisfaction that our students feel from entering an exam feeling prepared, then confidently showing off what they’ve practiced, and finally when they receive an excellent grade.
The feeling of adding another, higher Trinity qualification to the one they gained last year brings a real sense of achievement and a boost of self-esteem to students. It’s a real privilege for us to watch as teachers!
We take great pride in preparing students for exams as well as we can during their lessons, and having your backing as a parent helps immeasurably in giving your child faith in his/her own talent.
Please know that your Head Held High teacher is always open and available to answer any questions you may have about how your child can prepare optimally and with the most enjoyment and relaxation for their Trinity exams.
In the meantime, here’s to another fantastic exam season ahead 🙂
The author of this article – Mark Laurence – is married to Head Held High founder Kate Laurence. He lives behind the scenes of Head Held High as its Marketing Manager, and is extremely proud that in 2019 Head Held High will enter 240 students into Trinity speech and drama, and Speech NZ exams.