This article was written by Amanda Thai, a current VCE English & Literature tutor. Imogen currently is accepting students, so if you’re interested in her services, please go here.
Parents go pretty unappreciated. Through all our teenage years, they suffer through our headache-inducing whining, our innumerable bad decisions, and the joy of being an unpaid chauffeur to every party. But honestly? I couldn’t have gotten through Year 11 and 12 without my parents and their support. To all the parents out there: you underestimate the impact you can have on your child’s school life!
So, before you go nag your child to study, here are five simple tips to help you be your child’s best support team!
Give your child space to study
I absolutely cannot work if someone is peering over my shoulder. So, parents, though we appreciate the reminders, sometimes we just need some air. Ensure your child has an adequate study area that’s both spacious and solitary. If they have to take up the entire dining table with textbooks, let them! But just as important as physical space is mental space. In Year 11 and 12, a student’s head is so full of school and social life and study scores that there’s not much room for anything else. As much as they’d love to sympathise with your story about Grandma’s new casserole recipe or help you plan a family Christmas, they really don’t have the mental space for it. Give your child room to simply think.
2. Understand their stress
Stress can make students say or do things they don’t mean, and as parents, you probably cop the brunt of it. If your child spontaneously starts crying or screams at you and slams the door, it’s probably due to stress. Remember, they’re still a teenager. So, instead of yelling back at them or hounding them for their behaviour, recognise that stress is the source of their emotions and don’t be a contributor to it! Your child is already stressed about school, don’t make them stressed about home as well.
3. Be there to talk to
Year 11 and 12 comes with so much baggage, sometimes we just need someone to complain to. Since I lived a fair drive from school, this was when I unloaded all my thoughts onto my mum. I talked about mental space earlier and sometimes just having someone to talk to can free up some space in a student’s head. Encourage your student to talk about their school life. Because bonus—explaining or teaching the subject can actually be a method of studying! Even if your child doesn’t want to talk, just let them know you’ll be there to listen when they do.
4. Draw from your own knowledge
If you have knowledge of one of your child’s subjects, you can basically become their tutor. Having my dad, an electronic engineer, around to help with Maths Methods made that subject so much easier. For Textiles, my mum’s extensive knowledge of sewing and her equipment at home helped my folio immensely. But even knowledge outside of subjects can be useful! I would’ve gotten so sick during exam time if not for my mum’s knowledge of immune system boosters. Parents, you’ve been through school, you’ve been through more life than we have. Even if it’s something simple, your knowledge can make a difference.
5. Let them know you support and love them, regardless of the outcome
If you’re going to apply any of my tips, apply this one. Year 11 and 12 comes with so much pressure—from teachers, from peers, from the student themselves—to succeed. We herald the duxes and the 50 study scores and the 99+ ATARs. School is all about improving yourself, becoming more, becoming better, becoming smart. And in a time where you don’t even know yourself, this pressure to grow and change is perhaps the most detrimental. Parents, the most valuable thing you can do for your child is letting them know you love them as they are. Whether they get an ATAR of 90 or an ATAR of 30, they are still your child. Regardless of what happens this year, support them. Accept their best, because that’s the most they can give you.
So, parents, armed with these tips, it’s time to become the best support team your child could ask for! Remember: even though we don’t say it often enough, we love and appreciate you. Thank you for supporting us all these years!
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