Graduation may feel a long way away at the beginning of Year 11, but now is the time for your teen to set themselves up to achieve the final school results they want. These tips will give them a great head start.
Begin with the end in mind
Your teen probably did some career planning in Year 10 in order to select their courses for Year 11. If not, now is the time to do so – knowing what they want to do out of school, and what they need to achieve in order to do it, is a great study motivator! Encourage your teen to think about what they might like to do after school, and find out the different ways to get to the jobs they are interested in. School career advisers and online career sites such as Job Jumpstart, Job Outlook and myfuture are great sources of information.
Check the starting point
At the beginning of Year 11, it’s important to make sure that your teen is doing the courses that will lead them to where they want to go. If there are any doubts, make sure they see a career or course adviser as soon as possible. Check if they want you to attend this meeting for support, but make sure you let them lead the conversation.
Learn from the past
Successful people spend time reflecting on their past performance in order to find ways to improve. Before Year 11 gets into full swing, encourage your teen to do this, using these questions as a guide:
- How well did I work in Year 10?
- How do I think Year 11 will differ from earlier years?
- What things helped me do well in the past? How can I keep doing these things?
- What things didn’t help me? Are there things I could do differently this year?
Keep things in balance
If your teen spends too much time studying, socialising or working and not enough sleeping, exercising or eating healthily, their learning and health are likely to suffer. Help your teen to work out how they will maintain a balance in their life, starting with a realistic schedule. Encourage them to stay connected with friends and family, and to maintain interests outside school.
Encourage help seeking
The most successful people recognise when they need help and go find it. Encourage your teen to see asking for help as a sign of strength, not weakness. Many schools offer weekly study sessions where tutors and teachers can provide one-on-one assistance, and most will have school counsellors your teen can talk to about broader issues. Make sure your teen knows what support is available at their school, and uses it needed.
There are also free and confidential online and telephone support and counselling services for young people, such as eheadspace (1800 650 890). If you are ever concerned about the mental health of your teen (or of anyone aged 12-25), you can also contact eheadspace as a parent.
Your teen is transitioning into adulthood, but they still need you to stay actively involved in their education. Ideally your teen will see you as a coach or mentor, and be comfortable testing ideas with you, talking honestly about how they are going, and coming to you for advice. To be effective you’ll need to stay across what is required at school, so make sure you go to parent/teacher interviews and other key meetings with the school.
Become a time lord
An important part of this role is keeping track of all the dates that form part of the Year 11 calendar, including assignment due dates, exams and career days. Your teen’s school will do their best to keep you informed, so check that they have your current contact details. Read all the notes, emails and newsletters they send, and make sure your teen does the same.
Keep it in perspective
Year 11 and 12 are not an end in itself, but a step towards what your teen wants to do after school. There are many different ways to reach a particular career goal, so don’t treat these as ‘make or break’ years. Support your teen to do their best, with the confidence that you both know what the other options are if they don’t do as well as they hope.