As many parents can tell you, the exam period can be a stressful time, not just for the student but also for parents, other family members and friends.
To help the parents of HSC students support their child and survive the intense written exam period, we asked four respected NSW educators (all parents of children who have achieved their HSC) for some last-minute advice.
Tom Alegounarias, president of the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW, nominated “patience and support” as the two key ingredients for surviving the coming weeks.
“We survive if they survive,” he said.
“Teenagers often put a lot of pressure on themselves and find it hard to maintain their momentum when things don’t go according to plan. As parents we have the advantage of perspective and can reassure them that you often learn more when things don’t go right than when they do. “
And, he said, during the exam period, parents should go back to the basics of parenting to support their student.
“Make sure they are getting enough sleep and eating well,” he said.
“Help them plan their journey to each exam so they get there well in time. Above all, reassure them. With the help of their teachers they have spent months preparing for these exams. Now is their chance to show the exam markers how much they have learnt.
“Remind them to stay calm and just do their best.”
Dr Michael Slattery, principal at St Edward’s College on the Central Coast, said it’s also important to show a keen interest in the exams, discuss how your student found each paper and encourage preparedness for the next one.
“And remember to keep an eye on the HSC timetable to ensure your student knows when their examinations are on.”
Ray Paxton, head of Waverley Boys College in Sydney’s east, agreed it’s important that parents know their child’s exam timetable and starting times.
“In addition, I would say have good listening skills; expect some strong emotions (these vary from child to child); provide lots of encouragement and maybe insist (gently) on a timed essay practice the day (or night) before each exam,” he said.
Nicole Christensen, principal of Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney, said every child going through the HSC has a different experience and will need different support.
“The richness of this time in their lives is for them to take control themselves and to seek advice along the way,” she said.
“This builds their capacity and resilience not just for this year, for all the years ahead. As a parent I approached the year as one where I stopped to watch the transformation of my children as a result of their experiences.
“I didn’t feel that I was surviving it; I was witnessing and sharing in their growth as they transition into the adult world. And this is the best platform to move together into the new phase of life beyond Year 12.”