Parenting tips - Supporting your son through Year 12

29-May-2019

Year 12 is one of the most important years of schooling and it’s without surprise that there is an enormous amount of pressure on Year 12 students coming from parents, teachers, schools and the boys themselves. 

There are a number of ways you can support your son as he works through his final year of School.  

Routine 
Parents can do lots of things to help teenagers develop smart study habits. These skills do not develop automatically, and parents will need to be patient while these new habits develop and the old, unhelpful ones are discarded. 

Start by planning study in two 50-minute blocks with a 15-minute break. One 50-minute slab of study is better than several hours full of distractions and interruptions. Give your son positive feedback whenever he completes a study block and ask him to talk to you for a few minutes about what he has been studying that afternoon/evening. This allows him to revisit his learnings and consolidate memory. 

One of the most important aspects is healthy and regular eating throughout the day. You’re aiming for consistent blood sugar levels; not sugar highs and energy slumps.

A study-friendly environment 
Your teenager needs an environment that encourages him to think and focus on his studies. The environment plays a significant role in concentration. 

Distractions include being able to hear a television (even if it’s in another room), talking, noisy younger children, a mobile phone constantly demanding attention when messages come in, or cluttered work areas. 

Show how important schoolwork is in your home by keeping the TV off during study time and mobiles out of reach. 

There is debate in the literature about whether listening to music while studying is helpful and I get asked about this by parents quite a bit. 

Music may impair cognitive abilities when trying to memorise things in order, because a student may get thrown off by the changing words and notes in the song. Some research indicates listening to background music before a task/an exam can increase cognitive processes, such as attention and memory, through the mechanism of increasing arousal and positive mood.

Your son needs to reflect on why he wants to listen to music when he’s studying; is it because it makes the work more enjoyable and the time seems to go more quickly, or does it genuinely help him to ‘zone in’? Is his memory recall as good when he studies with music as without? The short-term pleasures of the music may not pay off in terms of his longer-term HSC goals. However, each person responds uniquely to music so some discussion and possibly experimentation may be required. 

Provide physical conditions that help concentration, such as good lighting, cool temperatures and a table or desk with a supportive chair. Studying while lying down interferes with concentration. The work area should be neat, have enough space for writing and reading, and should be kept clear of any clutter. 

Balance 
Try to make sure that your son spends time with family, and his friends. Sport and other enjoyable physical activities (including playing with pets) are a must and can assist with healthy sleep patterns. In Year 12, eight to nine hours of sleep per night is the goal and the importance of quality sleep cannot be under-estimated. 

Amanda J Pooley
Director of Wellbeing K-12