HSC help for parents and carers
When your child is going through the HSC, it can feel like you too are going through the HSC.
Homework and study demands increase once a student starts Year 11, as does an expectation they will become a more independent learner. This occurs about the same time they might:
- lose interest in school
- get their driver’s licence
- have a part-time job
- increase their social activities
- not know what they want to do after the HSC.
Some may also:
- develop an intense relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend
- experiment with alcohol and/or drugs
- develop an eating disorder
- suffer from depression or anxiety.
If any of these things sound familiar, you are not alone. Some of the following suggestions may help you and your child through the HSC and remember, it doesn’t last forever!
If your child is experiencing any serious issues, contact your school counselling service.
Healthy body, healthy mind
Like a marathon, students should start preparing their bodies for the HSC early. Although many students understand the need for regular study (but not all of them do anything about it), a lot don’t realise their physical and mental health are just as important. Good nutrition can improve endurance, alertness and concentration.
Some things you can do to help your teen get through the HSC include encouraging:
- a healthy diet – plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables
- drinking lots of water
- cutting down on caffeine – if they must have a coffee, limit it to 1 and not after midday
- plenty of sleep – teens don’t realise how much sleep they need, at least 8 to 10 hours is recommended
- being positive about how they will do in the exam
- exercise and time to switch off and relax each day.
Support and encourage
Be supportive and encouraging. Highlight strengths and successes. Encourage your child not to dwell on failures, but to see them as 'mistakes', which can actually be something they can learn and benefit from.
Appreciate your child maybe feeling very stressed, even if it's not obvious to you. Many kids fear letting their family down so beware of setting unrealistic expectations. Some worry they can't do as well as a sibling, or friend. Many Year 12 kids are feeling overwhelmed about what lies ahead – leaving home, leaving lifelong friends, the prospect of having to live in a new city.
Give them some slack
Understand people under pressure become supersensitive and explosive from time to time. Family members are usually the first targets. Try not to overreact.
Encourage a healthy balance between work and leisure. Some times kids need a total break from everything for a weekend or so, to recharge their batteries.
Encourage and allow your child to be as independent as you can possibly stand. The more independent your child is in meeting the demands of Year 12, the better prepared they will be to succeed at a tertiary level or in the workforce.
Be realistic in your expectations as to where the HSC leads. Not all HSC students will go on to university – but they can still have a wealth of excellent and satisfying career options.
If they don't get the HSC marks they needed and still really want to go on to tertiary education later, there are many other pathways. Interestingly, the success rate of mature age students is much higher than for those who go straight from school.
Encourage help seeking
Encourage your child to seek help from teachers or the school counsellor if they are having any difficulty with subjects, study organisation, stress or anxiety about examinations.
Reachout.com has a great section for parents. It's a great resource for practical support, tools and tips to help young people get through anything from everyday issues to tough times – and the information they offer parents makes it easier for you to help your teenagers, too. Reachout.com also have great tips on coping with exam stress.
Show your genuine interest
Take an interest in what your child is doing, if they'll allow you to (some won't). This can include the subjects or topics being studied, how their study timetables and programs have been organised and their leisure pursuits.
Read through our HSC help for students page with your child before their first exam.
Just before exams
- Don't stress about the little things like leaving lights on, leaving the lid off the toothpaste and not doing chores.
- Don't panic when they announce on the evening before the examination that they know nothing.
- Reassure them, even if you think they could be right – 'Just do the best you can' or 'We know you're giving it your best shot' is a good standby.
- Avoid nagging, which doesn't mean you can't give a nudge or gentle reminder from time to time.
- Encourage confidence by reassuring your child. If you have doubts, keep them to yourself.
- HSC papers and marking guidelines from previous years to better understand what type of questions are on the test and how your answers are marked.
- HSC Study Guide 2018 produced by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the Sydney Morning Herald is an excellent resource for all students and parents.
- Exam advice and resources for students from NESA will help your child know what to expect in the exam and what students can and can't take into the exam room.
- HSC stories from Reachout.com includes students who have been through the HSC talking about their experience and offering helpful tips.