Lauded as the most important stage of schooling of a teenager’s life, year 12 can cause extreme levels of stress, sometimes affecting their success. With much at stake and limited time to achieve a whole range of goals, there is a huge amount of pressure on young people during this time. But there are things you can do to help alleviate this stress if you are a parent, or a student struggling under the weight of year 12.
Tips for parents
- Be understanding. Yes, that does seem obvious, but it’s not just understanding the stress your child is under in terms of their school work, it’s realising they are under enormous social pressure (mostly dictated by society and films) to have the ‘best year of their life’. They have a school formal, parties, friends (or themselves) turning 18, graduation, driving a car, relationships; not to mention the competitiveness of valedictorian, school captain, dux, sport captainship, and trying to achieve other milestones and accomplishments.
- Step back in time. Remember when you were in your senior years of high school and how you felt? Now add to that the pressures of social media, a rapidly changing and unsettled world, unemployment statistics and all the other things we expect young people to take into account when they are just trying to grow up and find their way in the world. Have some empathy and give them your time and some real life advice, like how you deal with stress (unless it’s drinking heavily – maybe keep that one to yourself).
- Keep in touch. Without being overbearing, check in with your kids about their life and their school work. Keep channels of communication open between school and home (with your child’s knowledge) and take them with you to parent-teacher interviews. These conversations concern the student so they should be there for the discussion. Your child is a young adult and should be treated as such.
- Don’t save the children, Seriously, don’t. It won’t help your child in year 12 or inlater life if you constantly bail them out, or worse: lie for them (it does happen!). If a student hasn’t done their work or is unhappy with their grade, they need to learn the skills to speak to their teachers themselves. This will help them become confident professionals in the future. Speaking to the teacher on the student’s behalf should come after they have tried to solve the problem themselves. Causing problems between student and teacher can add extra stress to their final year. Most teachers are reasonable and happy to help.
- Give them room. Literally and metaphorically. If you have the space in yourhouse, give students an office or somewhere they can take themselves to so they can work. Working from the bedroom encourages procrastination and brings stress to the very place they should feel safe and comfortable to rest. Give students room to breathe as well. Check in with them and encourage conversation about their progress without pushing too hard or you might push them away. Make room for some fun, too. Spend some quality time with them to let them know there is a world out there beyond the computer and assignments.
Here are some tips from parents of year 12 students:
“Be there for them,” Georgia says. “Don’t nag them to do their work, they know they have to do it, but support them when they need it. Ask them what they need from you as support. Make sure they have down time too for relaxation and some fun.”
Lynne says: “There are many paths in life, and an ATAR is just one number. Don’t let it ruin your year. Seriously, no one cares what you get, really! Go and travel and then apply as an adult if you want to go to uni. There are so many options!”
Lead by example,” Glen says. “Show them how to deal with stress and worry, and offer advice on how to break down tasks so it doesn’t become overwhelming.”
Tips for students
- Choose life. First and foremost, this is not the most important year of your life, despite what you might hear. Sure, it’s important, but it will not define who you are or what you do in your future. Even if you achieve the grades to get into medicine, you might discover you hate the sight of blood and are much better suited to computer engineering. That’s completely ok. Also, who says you have to go to university? You can go to TAFE, get an apprenticeship, complete an internship or go to work. The ATAR does not make the person.
- Take it one step at a time. When you have six tasks outstanding and everything feels like it’s crashing down on you, stop and take a step back. Start with one task and once that is completed, have a break and do the next one. No one is expecting you to have super human abilities, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Start at the start and you’ll get to the end. If you have a 1000 word essay to write, break it up: 150 words for the introduction, 250 for your first paragraph, 200 for your second, 250 for your third and 150 for your conclusion. Tackle one part of the essay at a time and it won’t seem as daunting.
- Talk to your teachers. Your teachers are your best allies in year 12. They want you to succeed. It is of no benefit to them whatsoever that you fail. They want you to do well and they are there to help. Pack up your middle school belief that your teachers are aliens from outer space, and understand they are people who know their stuff and they are there to help you get the best mark you possibly can in their subject.
- Take responsibility. Don’t get your parents to fight your battles for you. Speak with your teachers if you have fallen behind, are having trouble understanding something, or you have concerns about a grade. This is far better coming from you and will give you the skills to deal with bosses and colleagues in the future. Remember this is your year, so you’ll get out of it what you put in. Your teachers are there to help, but if you hand up an essay draft riddled with errors, your teacher will spend their time correcting your spelling and grammar and glossing over your content, so you won’t get the best out of the drafting process. Your teacher is not your editor, so proofread before submitting anything.
- Organise yourself. Start out as you mean to go on and make a plan. Buy some great stationery, set up your study space and get yourself organised early. Plan and begin major tasks when your teacher gives them to you or you might find yourself in term three with five major tasks hanging over your head. Collate notes and keep folders both electronically and otherwise; you’ll need them when it comes to exams. Save, save save everything (on a cloud or network, not on your desktop) as you go and do not delete anything until all of your work has been submitted and year 12 is over.
Here are some tips from young people who have recently completed year 12:
“This is very cliché advice and whenever I heard it I never used to listen, instead endlessly stressing I wouldn’t achieve what I set out to,” says Christiana. “Truth is, as soon as those results come out, students’ entire focus shifts and priorities are heavily re-evaluated. It becomes apparent that it all was far from a defining moment or a full reflection on who you are as an individual. The most important learning that happens in year 12 isn’t academic, but rather the development of students as adults, friends and the people they will be. The lessons come in many forms, and your challenges aren’t limited to just academic ones.”
Alexandra says: High school is not the be all and end all of life and everything always gets better!
“I’d definitely say it’s all about dedicated study,” says Jacob. “Realistically you only need to put a few hours in per week to stay on top of things, but when people procrastinate, the work takes much longer. The time spent with the word document open, but watching YouTube or scrolling through Facebook still feels stressful, like work, and takes considerably more time to get the work done. If you focus properly on getting that work done, it’ll be half as much time spent slouching over the computer stressing.
“Keep yourself busy and having fun and it’ll be a breeze,” Zandra says. “Surround yourself with positive friends, teachers and mentors who believe in your abilities. Having a strong support system can make a miserable year into a fantastic one. And keep year 12 in perspective. It’s one year of the rest of your life don’t let it define the rest of your life. Having supportive teachers who also challenged me was so important in my success. I also had a nap everyday, I don’t know how helpful that is but I enjoyed it.”
“Start exam revision super early,” says Tristram, who was College Captain in his final year of high school.
Stephanie says: You’re gonna drink a lot of coffee so learn to like it black! Too much milk ain’t a good thing. If you can visualise it, you can achieve it. Plan it all out on a calendar, including work and other commitments etcetera. Cross each day off as you go. The hardest part is starting, but it’s worth having the anxiety over your head. Also, you have teachers that don’t give up on you. They may only be a few, but looking back they made all the difference.”
“Set clear goals for your self, aim high and work hard,” says Grace.
“Believe in yourself. Your guts don’t lie,” Pin Hua says.
Chloe says: “Make sure you are doing something outside of the academic stuff, like club sports, horse riding, music, photography, reading (not for English); something you are passionate about and can give you a release when things are a bit hectic. Year 12 shouldn’t be about putting your life on hold. Go out and do what you love, just do it in moderation.
“You’re only young, you aren’t supposed to have the whole ‘rest of your life’ thing sorted and that’s okay. Life is constantly changing and it’s okay to change your mind, says Matthew.
Sariah says: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you don’t understand or you’re struggling, talk to your teachers and they will help you. You don’t have to feel stupid or inferior for getting the help. In the end it will benefit you, and that’s what matters.
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