Every year we speak to thousands of parents, and they always have questions.

Questions about how they can best support their child and teenager through the school year, help them make it their best school year yet, and allow their child to reach their full potential!

In this article we’re going to be sharing 3 super simple strategies that you can use as a parent, to work with your child and help them make this year their best school year yet!

Step 1: Have a Conversation About Yearly Goals
Step 2: Help Your Child To Manage Distractions
Step 3: Encourage Them to Teach You

Step 1: Have a Conversation With Your Child About Their Yearly Goals

This first step is so simple!

Just sit down with your child and have a conversation with them about their goals for the current school year.

Often we see students just cruising through the school year and they tend to not have well-articulated goals.

And the reason for this is that often students haven’t reached that level of maturity yet where they are able to effectively think through how to set a goal.

This is where you come in and help your child set their goals and in giving support to achieving them!

Action Point:

Step 1: Ask “What’s going to make this year a great year?”

Have a sit down conversation with your child and ask them: “What’s going to make this year a great year?” and get them to talk through what that might look like!

Alternatively you could ask them, looking back on the previous year, “What would have made last year a successful one?”.

Step 2: Ask clarifying questions

You might have to dig a little here!

Often students say their goal is “to do well in school”, but what does that actually mean? Is it a specific mark or ATAR? Is it a specific amount of improvement?

Ask clarifying questions to tease this specificity out and help them articulate what their goal actually is.

A really great thing to do while you’re having this conversation with your child is to make sure you’re not just focusing on academics.

So, talk about what your child’s goals at school look like, but also about extra-curricular activities, hobbies and things they love to do outside of school!

Step 3: Write it down!

This is the critical step – get your child to write their goals down!

Writing these goals down takes it out of your child’s head and your head and makes them more concrete.

It also allows your child to take ownership of their goals and to commit to their goals for the school year.

This is important because it gives students some direction. They know where they want to go, and this allows them to propel forward and take action on this!

Step 2: Help Your Child to Manage Distractions

The second thing you can do to help your child have their best school year yet, is to help them to manage distractions.

This is likely going to be a prickly subject and challenging thing to do with your child, but it is critically important.

As a parent, you already know the impact phones, the internet, and social media have on your child’s concentration and focus.

The reality is that you’re right, every time your child is distracted from the work that they are doing, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track and focused on the work in front of them.

That’s right, 23 minutes and 15 seconds!

Because of this huge time cost, one of the biggest challenges to your child in reaching their full potential is going to be managing these distractions!

The truth is that we all have a limited amount of willpower to resist distractions during our day. It’s just like fuel, as the day goes on, we run lower and lower in that fuel.

So by the time your child gets home from school, their willpower is already running pretty low.

So, the challenge here is that students generally aren’t disciplined enough or have sufficient willpower in the tank to help them make good decisions about responding to distractions by the end of the day.

So, a critical thing you can do to help your child is to support them in identifying how they can build a system that will help them reduce or manage these distractions and create a distraction-free study zone at home.

Action Point:

Step 1: Have a conversation about managing their phone

The best thing to do here is have a conversation with your child about how you able to help them manage their phone use while they’re studying.

This might mean that they voluntarily give you their phone while they’re studying, or turning their phone off and putting it in another room.

Step 2: Installing apps to help manage distractions

To manage distractions on your child’s computer and the internet, there are a few different apps that can be used to block certain sites for a particular amount of time.

If you have a Mac, you can use SelfControl!

SelfControl is an app that blocks your access to particular sites for a particular period of time.

how to stay focused while studying

If you’re using Windows you can use Cold Turkey which does the same thing!

how to stay focused while studying

This step is all about being intentional about what websites your child needs to access on the internet for study and blocking sites like Youtube and Facebook that aren’t necessary during this time.

Step 3: Identify and implement a system for managing distractions

Once you have figured out how you will be supporting your child in managing distractions, it’s important to actually implement a system for doing so.

So, rather than your child giving these a go and then trying to use these strategies while they’re studying, there are systems in place that just work without any extra willpower needed.

To do this, again, sit down and have a conversation with your child about what kind of system can be put in place to make managing distractions an easy process.

Remember to have this discussion with your child, and let them create their own ideas and strategies, rather than forcing things upon them, to give your child a sense of ownership of these decisions.

Step 3: Encourage Them to Teach You

The third thing you can do to help your child have their best school year yet is to encourage them to teach you everyday!

Now, here’s why: 

Most of the time students receive feedback on work and assessments at the wrong time, because they study and prep, do the assessment and then get feedback after the fact.

This isn’t helpful because you can’t change and improve using that feedback because you didn’t know it before you did the work!

To really help students improve, we need to shift feedback from being received after the fact, to before the fact. 

And when you’re teaching someone, you’re receiving feedback all the time from the person you’re teaching.

Therefore, if you can get your child to teach you the content they’re learning at school, this will help move the feedback loop from after the fact to before. It will help them identify what they do know, and what they don’t know BEFORE they actually do the assessment or take the exam. 

The other real benefit of having your child teach you is that it is one of the most powerful ways to memorise information!

So by having your child teach you, you’re actually helping them to memorise the information they need to know for exams and assessments. And believe it or not, this is going to be some of the most effective study they do all year! 

So, how do you encourage your child to teach you?

Step 1: Ask Them Over Dinner

This is an easy way to encourage your child to teach you and to help support them with their study.

During dinner your child has a captive audience for 30 minutes where you can ask them questions and get them to teach you the content they learnt in class that day.

Step 2: Ask Them While Driving

Is your car Dad or Mum’s taxi? Always driving your kids to and from school and extracurricular activities?

Make it a condition of your ‘taxi service’ that while you’re ferrying them around, that they teach you what they’ve been learning in class that day or that week.

Step 3: What To Actually Ask!

Here are a few prompts to help you get this conversation started:

“What was the most challenging thing you learnt today at school?”

 

“What was the most interesting thing you learnt at school today?”

 

Or be specific, if you know they have English on Mondays, ask “What did you learn today in English? Tell me about it!”

Now once they’re talking about it, dig deeper and ask questions about what they’re telling you.

Another strategy to encourage your child to teach you and to help you support them is to actually get a copy of their study notes and use these to quiz them!

You can then use their notes to check their answers and give them feedback!

Use it as an opportunity for them to teach you and for you to give them some feedback on how they’re going.

Looking for a mentor to support your child prepare and study for the upcoming HSC?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational mentors and tutors who can help support your child during the HSC.

With small groups classes, or personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby, we can help you regardless of where you live!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at info@artofsmart.com.au or check us out on Facebook!

Isabella Hanley loves science. She loves science so much she’s making it her career. While completing her Bachelor of Medical Science she is also a Coach and Digital Content Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the HSC herself in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and hanging out with her awesome rescue dog, Ruby.