From the Head of the Senior School – Summer Hill
“Jesus said, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened’.” Mt.11:28.
As we approach the last week of Term 3, we are seeing the Class of 2022 in their last days of school. There is an increased amount of energy and focus amongst the members of the 2022 cohort. Understandably, the energy is being divided across a few areas. There are the demands of classes and responding to the advice of teachers from the Trials, the purchasing of a suit to wear to the Valedictory Dinner, the last music performance or attempt to obtain sporting glory, and perhaps surprisingly to some, the intensity of the lunch time games of handball, touch or football has stepped up. Consciously or not, memories are being made. The glory of victory in the last ever game of handball or the agony of defeat in the final game of touch will live long in the memories of the boys and tall stories about the games might be told for years to come. It is an exciting time.
Of course, the looming Year 12 Final Examinations will be dampening some of the enthusiasm about finishing school. Rightly so, the Final Examinations will be a significant focus for the Year 12 boys. The Year 11 boys have finished their Yearly Examinations and start the long march of Year 12 with their own Finals on the horizon. Year 10 students will, not too far into next term, sit their examinations as well. I thought it might be a good time to humbly offer some suggestions as to what parents can do in the lead up to and during exams.
Ensure your son has a good space to study. Their bedroom might not be the best choice. The dining table or family study where you can provide some passive supervision might be better choices.
Help him to manage his use of technology. Surrendering his phone to you, even if only for a short period, might help him to focus on the task at hand. Check if he really needs to be using a device to do his homework. Exams, at least for the foreseeable future, are going to be handwritten. Some boys need the practice at ensuring their script is legible. Check that he doesn’t have too many tabs open on his internet browser. The more tabs he has open the less focussed he is on completing a single task.
Build in some short-term accountabilities and rewards. Find out what he is hoping to achieve in each homework or study session. The level of detail you expect might depend on his age, stage and mood. If you know what he is hoping to do you can ask a targeted question. For instance, if over dinner he tells you he wants to finish five maths questions, asking him “Did you get those five maths questions done?” makes him accountable to himself and to you. A vague statement from him that he has study and you simply asking, “have you done enough study?” won’t be as helpful. If he has done the tasks he set out to do have a break with him, a cuppa or a quick burst of exercise will help him maintain balance.
Discuss expectations with him. What is he expecting to do in the lead up to exams? What do you expect him to do? Will he still be doing his share of jobs around the home or will he be doing fewer of them so he can study? (If that is the case and he isn’t studying get him to do some of the jobs). Will he be going out with his mates? If any of his expectations are unrealistic help him to see that. Help him to be realistic and focus on his own situation not that of others.
Help him ensure he is eating, exercising and sleeping well. He needs sleep. All night study sessions shouldn’t be necessary during any stage of High School (or University for that matter).
Put up a copy of his exam timetable. Know when he needs to leave for an exam and which exam it is. Sure, he might be 18 and a tad annoyed that you’re overly managing him, but seeing his schedule and sending a quick text or phone call asking if he is on his way and wishing him well won’t do any real harm. It might put you at ease as well.
Help him develop coping skills. What works for him when it seems overwhelming? Is it a run, a bike ride, alone, with a mate or one of his parents? Is it a longer hot shower? Help him to find ways of slowing down and stepping back.
Love him. Show him you love him and remind him that the exams, whilst all consuming now, are not the only thing that matter. Your love for him is bigger and more important than his performance.
Remember the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt.11:28-30)
Dr Heath De Lany | Head of the Senior School