There is a wealth of information available about supporting students. Here is some advice collected from the leaders of psychology services of the education systems/sector.
Finishing Year 12
Staying focused is important for all students as they work towards finishing Year 12. There are some simple things you can do.
- Help your teen stay focused on their goals, reaching the end of the school year and starting the next chapter of their life’s adventure.
- Resist society's narrow definition of success and encourage your teen to develop their own personal definition that is unique to them.
- Talk with your teen in particular about your expectations; Students experience much less worry and stress about school work when they feel like they are meeting parents' expectations. Students will often assume what these are if they are not said. It also helps to have reasonable expectations.
- Tell your teen you love them no matter what grades or ATAR or offers they get.
Effective study strategies
Strategies for managing distractions
It can be hard to concentrate on study when there are too many distractions.
- Talk with your teen about what they are most likely to be distracted by and how they can limit these.
- Set up an area that is quiet and well lit with good air flow.
- Consider making their study area a phone free zone or turning off social media notifications during set study periods.
It is important that your teen has regular breaks while studying and sets aside time for fun. If they know that they will get time to connect with others and do the things they enjoy they will find it easier to focus during set study periods.
Dealing with examinations
Before the examination period
Space – provide a quiet space for study, revision and preparation
Time – free up some time by relaxing expectations for chores and family commitments; assess part-time job commitments and limit hours, if required
Routine – establish a regular routine and flexible schedule to create balance
Expectation – help teens know what to expect on the day of the examination
Clarification – encourage teens to ask their teacher questions if they’re unsure
Balance – encourage extra-curricular activities and connection with support networks
Rest – maintain a regular sleep schedule and encourage recreation with regular short and long breaks to relax, exercise and socialise
Breaks – teach teens the importance of study breaks, and returning to study as planned after a break – make a list activities that can be breaks and rewards
Distractions – minimise disruptions to study schedules by encouraging breaks of phones and social media
Talk – find out from your teen about when, where and how they study best – encourage them to take advantage of any study technique sessions run by their school
During the examination period
Your teen’s examination timetable might see them finishing their examinations within a week, or it might stretch out over the full schedule of three weeks. Throughout the examination period you can help by:
- being constructive and positive
- encouraging good sleep patterns and eating habits
- encouraging them to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening and emphasise staying hydrated with water
- having realistic expectations and avoid pushing them too hard
- encouraging them to take some time out from studying with scheduled breaks and relaxation
- encouraging wind down time between studying and bedtime.
On examination days
Setting the scene and a positive tone on examination days can make all the difference to your teen. You can help your teen by:
- ensuring they are well rested, well fed, hydrated, and prepared with the correct equipment and at the examination venue on time.
- offering some words of encouragement help them feel motivated and confident
- debriefing after the examination, listening to your teen’s concerns without criticising them, and encouraging them to put the examination to one side and move on to their next challenge or reward.
After the examination period
Waiting for results, offers for places at university or training, or moving on to employment brings new stresses.
Encourage your child to stay connected with their social group and support networks.
It can be helpful for your teen to understand that stress is an emotional and physical response to challenging situations. It is the body’s way of motivating us to respond to the situation. The right amount of stress can motivate your teen to focus and study. When stress gets to the point that sleep or concentration is disrupted, it can become problematic.
These basic steps can help your teen cope with exam stress:
- Promote good eating habits, hydration, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. Discourage excessive caffeine intake.
- Encourage them to take a break if they seem overwhelmed and use a pre-determined relaxation strategy.
- Help them to keep a balanced lifestyle and continue to do the things they love as well as finding time to study.
- Let them talk it out – be a safe space for them to talk about their worry. Listen, accept, and empathise. Try not to judge what they are saying or tell them what to do.
- Ensure conversations with your teen do not solely relate to exams. Make long-term plans which include holidays or something fun happening at the weekend.
- Encourage them to use relaxation techniques, or practice these with them. There are numerous apps that can be used for relaxation.
If you feel that your teen’s stress is interfering with their daily functioning, it may be worth seeking professional help with a Psychologist. They can also find further support at:
In you feel that your teen requires emergency mental health care, the following services are available:
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Emergency Telehealth Service (Under 18 years – 24 hours – 7 days) 1800 048 636
- Crisis Care (24 hours) 9223 1111
- Crisis Care (Country free call) 1800 199 008
- Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
- Kids Help Line (Parents) 1800 654 432
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL Metropolitan) 1300 555 788
- Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL Peel) 1800 676 822
- Rural Link 1800 552 002
- QLife 1800 184 527.
Telephone 000 for emergencies.