The Complete High School Parent’s Survival Guide: How to Ensure You Remain Sane and Supportive During Your Child’s Time in High School
This article was written by Jackson Gibson, a current VCE Tutor. Jackson is currently accepting students, so if you’re interested in his services, you can see his profile here.
So your child is coming into senior high school years and you’re perhaps starting to realise that as well as being a stressful, important and daunting time for them, it will be a big year for you as well. In my experience as a student, friend, brother and tutor, I have been on and seen the journey that is high school and particularly Year 12 with a range of students and their families, and here are some tips and ideas that I have noticed along the way to get the best out of your child and surviving it yourself. It is important to remember though, that everybody and every family is different and that the key to success in high school is not one size fits all.
It is important to have a good relationship with the school and teachers, and this is built through the younger years. Things like attending information sessions, engaging in parent-teacher interviews and meeting your child’s friends’ parents are ways to ensure you are all over what is going on. By knowing the teacher and being familiar with the school, it can ease some of the stress and concern that might arise and ensure you are aware of the expectations and communication channels.
Being aware of the school requirements regarding uniform, attendance, homework and engagement with extra-curricular activities will help to ensure your child has the best learning experience possible. Whilst it might seem very different from primary school, it is definitely acceptable and common to talk to teachers and staff through email, phone or in person to support your child, but also may provide re-assurance for yourself.
The advice and tips about VCE are also applicable to younger years, but they apply particularly to VCE where the pressure ramps up.
THE HOLIDAYS LEADING UP TO YEAR 12
Before Year 12 starts, it is important to work out what your child’s intention and ambitions are because if they are aspiring to be the best they can be and in the high ATAR bracket, their Year 12 will be a lot different to someone who is looking to just get through the year. So this means that these tips and advice will be more applicable to some than others.
As with most holidays, but particularly over the summer break between Year 11 and 12, most schools will set holiday homework to help get the ball rolling into Year 12, and it is important as a parent to know this and ensure they have time to do it throughout the holiday and not just on the last weekend. But in saying that, as Year 12 will be a busy and action-packed year, it is important to ensure balance, and provide an opportunity for them to refresh, relax and have fun in the lead-up.
It is also important to provide a good study area for your child. This area should be in a quiet place, have good lighting, be well ventilated and maintain a comfortable temperature with a suitable chair, desk, space and table.
THE FIRST FEW TERMS AND SACS
Year 12 will be hard and tiring, but it should also be a fun year for students. Your child and their friends will most likely turn 18, some will get their licences, there will be 18ths, and probably formals that come up all throughout the year. These should be enjoyed and are a chance to let the hair down, which should be supported by you. However, in my experiences allowing and encouraging them to go out all night, and then sleep all day on Saturday or Sunday is detrimental as not only do they miss some time to study on the weekend, but it also impacts their sleeping pattern and focus in class and during the following week. It could be a good idea early in the year to agree on some limitations and boundaries in regards to parties and events.
It is recommended during Year 12 to be doing about 3 hours of study per night, and this is of particular importance coming up to SACs, which are pretty much spread out all through the terms. As parents, it is a good idea to stay involved and be aware of the upcoming SACs whether it be recording the dates on a family calendar, or just talking often about what is coming up so that you can support their intensive study. There will be times when your child is disappointed or upset over poor SAC results, and it is important to remember that there is already likely to be lots of pressure from school and internally to do well. Instead of criticising and critiquing, act as a motivator and help to instil confidence and work on improving SACs scores in the future. This could be through providing praise for the process and preparation to the SAC and then working with teachers or tutors to improve performance in the SAC itself. If it is an ongoing concern, then getting in contact with the teacher through phone or email, or at parent-teacher interviews, as well as working through it with a tutor could be a good idea. Maintaining open communication with your child’s teachers or tutors may also provide comfort for you as a parent, knowing that everyone is working to get the best results for your them.
THE LEAD UP TO THE EXAM
During the year, it is important to use holidays as a period to relax and de-stress while keeping the study ticking over, but unfortunately for Year 12s the Term 3 ‘holidays’ should be more of a break to study. This study break should be used to finish all school work and notes, and then begin preparing for the exams. Most schools will run practice exams during this time, and there are heaps of lectures, seminars and classes available through private companies to help revise and prepare, so making sure that your child is not away on holidays is vital. This period may also create a little bit of anxiety for your child, so offering a tutor, attendance at a revision class or lecture, or talking with the teacher about how to help could be useful. As parents, staying involved and finding out key VTAC application dates as well as exam dates may help to reduce your own worries, and also reassure your child that you are supporting them all the way through.
THE EXAM PERIOD
This will most likely be the scariest and most difficult time in Year 12 for you and your child. Once again, knowing the time and location of each exam, maybe offering lifts to and from exams, or even things like removing chores in that period and making an extra effort to provide help where possible will ease some of the stress. This exam time will see a lot of students dedicate literally their whole time to study, but exercise and relaxing in moderation can help to relieve stress and improve the effectiveness of study, so as a parent ensuring a bit of balance is good.
Throughout the entire year, but especially here, being on top of any illness that your child has and ensuring their good health is important. Missing exams, as well as SACs and the GAT, is taken very very seriously, so always consult school and doctors before advising that. Medical certificates are required for changes in SACs, and if your child is ill in some way in the lead up to or on exam day, they should still sit the exam, and again medical certificates and documentation is needed to apply for special consideration.
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