Top 5 Tips For Starting High School

If your child is currently in year 6, then no doubt they are excited about beginning their first year of high school in 2014. Beginning year 7 is an exciting time in every student’s life, but it can also be a stressful experience. There are many reasons why your child may be anxious about next year: having to make new friends, having to find your way around an unfamiliar school, learning difficult and unfamiliar topics and managing a larger workload. Today, I will provide 4 tips that you can use to ensure that your child’s first year of high school is as happy and productive as possible.


1. Get On Top Of Organisation

One of the biggest differences between primary school and high school is that, in high school, students are much more responsible for their own organisations. Teachers will not explicitly tell students what materials to bring to class, what to take home each day, and how to store their notes; it’s up to each student to figure out their own way of keeping organised.

Before your child starts year 7, it is important that you make sure they have all the material they need to stay organised. They should have a folder and a notebook for each subject, a pencil case with all the materials that they will need, and a student diary to keep track of assignments. You should also talk to your child about how they will store their notes, what information they need to write in their diary, and how they will decide what material to take home and what to leave at school.


2. Become A Homework Master

Year 7 is the time that homework starts to pile up like never before. Your child will most likely be expected to complete homework for each of their classes each week, as well as keeping up with long-term assignments. If you want your child to excel in high school, then now is a good idea to start setting good study habits for them.

Each week, ask them to think about what tasks they have to complete by the end of the week and construct a study timetable. When year 7 starts, they should be doing a bit of homework at least 4 nights a week, so it’s important that they have a clear idea of what needs to be done and when. Make sure your child is using their diary effectively to write in all of their homework.

Extra: Have a look at our blog post on setting up a productive study space for more tips on how to make sure homework time is as productive as possible.


3. Don’t Get Caught By Maths

In year 7, one of the most terrifying things that students have to face is algebra. Some students find it easy, but for some students, the idea of introducing letters as pronumerals into maths is very intimidating. Unfortunately, students who struggle with algebra are likely to fall behind in mathematics. The best thing you can do as a parent is to make sure your child is on top of their maths. If you are concerned that they may not be ready for the challenges of year 7 maths, it is a good idea to talk to their teacher or a tutor about what you can do to get them up to the right level. There’s still plenty of time to get the basics under control.


4. Start Reading Now!

In year 7, your child will be expected to do more independent reading than ever before. This can sometimes come as a shock for students, who may have never read a novel on their own before. It is a good idea to get your child used to reading before then. Throughout the year, and in the summer holidays, try to find books that your child might enjoy. There are an excellent range of Young Adult novels out there. It’s just a matter of finding something that will engage your child.

It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to read any texts that the school sets before starting year 7. In their English classes, they may be expected to respond and interpret these texts in ways that your child may be unfamiliar with. The sooner they become familiar with the novel or text that they will be studying, the more comfortable they will be with the new ideas that they will learn. It might also be a good idea to read their texts yourself, so that you are able to discuss ideas with your child.

The most important thing you can do, however, is to ensure that your child views the transition from primary school to high school as a positive thing. It is a fantastic opportunity to make new friends, learn interesting new ideas, and challenge themselves. I will you and your child the best of luck in the coming year!

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken quite a lot about how goal setting is one of the most important skills for any student to learn. The ability to set goals, plan how to achieve them, and learn from your success or failure is a skill that all successful students possess, whether they are in prep or university.

But, as I’m sure you know, goal setting is not as simple as just saying “I want to be a doctor” and hoping that it will magically happen. It probably won’t. If you want your child to achieve their dreams, then now is the time to teach them to set smart goals, using the S.M.A.R.T principle.

The S.M.A.R.T principle states that goals should be

Specific – It’s all well and good to set larger general goals such as “I want to be a doctor,” but it’s important to recognise that these larger goals do not happen all at one; they are made up of many small specific achievements: organising your study notes, creating a study timetable, getting an A or A+ on your next test, creating useful study notes, performing well on an exam. Encourage your child to think about the smaller, more specific short term goals that they can focus on.

Measurable – There is no point in making goals if we can not learn from them. In order to learn from them, you need a way of knowing how successful you have been. For example, if your goal is to get 95% on your next SAC, you can easily measure whether or not you have achieved this goal, and how far off you are from achieving it next time. This information should be used to modify study plans, set new goals and learn what works and what does not.

Achievable – If you were training up to run a 10km race, would you go out tomorrow and try to run 10km? No. If you are getting D’s on all of your Maths test, would you expect to get an A+ for your next one? Possibly not. If your child sets unrealistic goals for themselves, they are likely to become demoralised and give up. However, if your child sets goals that are too easy, they are not likely to be particularly motivated to work hard. The trick is to set goals that are both challenging and achievable, so that your child can feel what it’s like to work hard and achieve their objective.

Rewarding – People are more likely to work hard towards goals that make them feel good. When your child achieves their goal, you should make sure they feel rewarded for their effort. This doesn’t mean that you have to give them money or buy them a present. Sometimes a simple “good job! I’m proud of you” can make it all worth it.

Timely – Students are very bad at thinking about the future. This is how procrastination works. It is so much easier to say that you will do something “tomorrow” or “next week” that do it right away. If your child’s goals are too long-term, then it is likely that they will put off working until it is too late. This is why it is important for your child to set goals with short time frames. Instead of looking ahead to the end of the year, encourage them to think about what their goals for the term, or even the week are.

Here’s an activity for you. Talk to your child and discuss their long term educational goals. Then, use the S.M.A.R.T principles to break these goals down into smaller, more specific and short term goals. Perhaps you’d like to share these goals in the comments section. We would love to hear them.

5 Steps To Motivating A VCE Student

There are a lot of very intelligent students out there who, despite their natural talents, perform poorly in VCE due to a lack of motivation. Often, when faced with the immense pressures of year 12, students can become apathetic and lose energy. They say things like “there’s no point in trying” or “I’m just going to hope for the best.” Does this sound familiar? If you think that your child is struggling to motivate themselves, these 5 steps are sure to help them get back on track.

1. Discuss Their Long Term (Personal) Goals
At the start of VCE, it is a good idea to sit down with your child and discuss their goals for the year. Encourage them to think of long term goals, such as getting a particular ATAR score so they can get into their chosen University degree. Share their excitement with them; it is important that they understand that VCE is an exciting chance to open up a range of opportunities for themselves.

2. Discuss Their Short Term (Academic) Goals
Once your child know what they want to get out of the year, the next question is “Ok, how do we get there?” Getting a good ATAR score does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. For this reason, long term goals should be broken down into shorter, easier short term goals that your child can focus on throughout the year. For example, if my long term goal is to get an ATAR score of 95, some of my short term goals might be: get an A or higher on my SAC next week, develop a system for organising my notes, do a little bit of exam revision each week and learn how to structure an essay. Once you have discussed your child’s goals, write them all down. It is important to keep hold of these and refer back to them throughout the year.

3. Make An Action Plan
Next, it’s time to work together to figure out how your child should go about achieving their goals. Do they need to study for two hours every night? Do they need to dedicate an hour each week to reviewing their notes? Do they need to read their English text by the end of the holidays? Make a list of tasks that need to be done, and figure out when they will be done. This is also a great time to make up a homework/study schedule for the year.

4. Leave Reminders
When your child has developed a study schedule and an action plan for the year, make sure they stick it up above their desk so they can see it as they study. It is important that your child can remind themselves throughout the year why it is that they are working so hard, and what it is they hope to achieve.

5. Revisit Goals
There’s no point in making goals if they are going to be forgotten. Make sure you revisit your child’s goals throughout the year. If they have been reaching their goals, then make sure to praise them. If they are not living up to their own expectations, then it might be a good time to discuss their study habits and priorities. You can always make new plans and update goals throughout the year.

If your child is in year 11 and 12 this year, don’t wait until it’s too late to get them motivated. To be successful in VCE, students need to be working hard throughout the whole year. If your child is not, then now is the time to get them motivated.