When a child is preparing for year 12 and the HSC it is never a solitary journey – the parents too must experience the rigors and stress of the process. Here are a few ways for you, as a parent, to help your child along the way.
Way before year 11 and the HSC even starts, our kids cross one of their biggest hurdles – which subjects they will “lock themselves into” for the next two years. Make sure you discuss with your child what subjects they’re looking into, and why. Try to be open with them and discuss their decisions and encourage them to study classes that will both be beneficial and enjoyable for them. No student is ever going to well at a class that they have no interest in. If you pressure them into a particular subject the stress is only going to compound – duress plus stress? Not a happy student. Not a successful student.
Being a successful student is all about balance. Our kids need to be able to effectively balance their social, physical and mental lives. This means they need to set time in their week for school work, for their part time job (if they have one), for their friends, for their family and for their hobbies and interests. Over committing to any of these areas creates an imbalance and causes unnecessary stress, and without a well balanced (and adhered to) schedule the student will more than likely miss or harm one of these elements of their lives.
Following on from scheduling is stress management. We often find that it is the parents of HSC students, more than the students that are high strung and stressed. The problem here lies in the “bleed through”; that is when the parents are stressed they create a high stress environment for their kids that is not conducive to good study. Of course you want to encourage them to do well and work hard, but it should be through methodologies such as encouraging balanced scheduling and reasonable study regimes rather than a 24/7 cram-fest. Stay calm, stay positive, and have realistic goals and expectations of your child.
Nutrition, Sleep & Health:
When preparing for a big exam, more than ever, we need to ensure that our kids are well rested and well fed. A healthy body means a healthy mind, and this means getting enough food, exercise and rest, even when exams loom. Encourage good sleeping patterns – a tired brain has dramatically reduced cognitive faculties and retention capacity. Those few extra hours of study in lieu of sleep can actually do a lot more harm than good.
An easy one – make sure your child has somewhere appropriate to study when at home. A quite, well lit, well ventilated and distraction free area. For a lot of kids their bedrooms are also their office, but with their computers and phones, have far too many more interesting things to distract them from their study. Discuss moving the student, or the distractions, even temporarily (for example, disable the internet while its scheduled study time).
If you are able provide support or at least offer support with their learning materials. If you are not able to help you can ask their school teacher for extra support, a family friend or relative or simply engage a private tutor. Just make sure the support is welcome and not forced.
The End is in Sight:
The end is not nigh, it is in sight. Always keep this in mind. The HSC is not the end of the world; it is just a major step in the long road of our kids’ education.