Many Year 12 students feel immense pressure to do well in their Year 12 exams, whether it be in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Now that the exams are done and dusted, how do you best support your son to make decisions about his future, and cope with whatever the results may be and the end of daily life as he knows it?
A large portion a Year 12 boy’s life is taken up by assessments and examinations. It is the culmination of more than 12 years of learning, all crammed into a few weeks of exams, and then it is all over. Completing school is a great achievement for any student but it also presents the question, what next? This question can be met with excitement and eagerness, but is just as likely to be met with indecision and uncertainty.
Life after Year 12 will look radically different for your son. He will have new found freedom, increased impendence and more responsibility. It can be a lot to deal with for some boys. We give you five useful tips for supporting your son after Year 12.
1. He will need some down time
Final exams can be stressful and intense – when they are finally over, don’t put too much pressure on your son to start thinking about his future right away. While some young adults may be motivated to plan their next move well ahead of time, others need simply to take some time out to relax, reconnect with family and friends, and have a carefree couple of weeks or months. Taking this time to destress can bring clarity about your son’s future as he can assess what is important to him, without the pressure of school weighing on him.
2. Put results into context
Universities often have minimum requirements for their courses and many boys fear they will not achieve the results they need to get into their chosen course. These results are indeed important and whilst they can have a bearing on your son’s immediate future, their importance should not be overestimated. If your son doesn’t get the results he was hoping for, remind him that there are many ways to skin a cat. There are often several other pathways to gain entrance into university courses and plenty of time for your son to do it.
3. Plan for the future
Once your son has taken some time out and processed the impact of his results, support him in making decisions about his future. There are many options available to your son. Should he go straight into tertiary study, take a gap year, or begin working? As parents, we want our sons to be happy with their life choices and their career paths, so support them as they decide on the next step by discussing the pros and cons of different options, but try to avoid making decisions for him.
4. Prepare for a change in your relationship
Your son will grow more independent and become responsible for how he spends his time. He will discover more about who he is as he matures and enters adulthood. You will most likely expect more from him in terms of helping around the home. Naturally the relationship you have with your son will develop and transform.
For parents it can be a difficult time as we watch our sons navigate the world on their own and need less from us on a practical level. Try to reserve judgement and let go, allowing your son to make his own decisions, but remind him that you are always there to listen, support and love him. From time to time he may struggle with new found responsibilities and making adult decisions and at these times he should feel comfortable leaning on you for support.
5. Maintain physical and mental health
Life will move from the very structured and controlled environment of school to an environment with much more freedom and self-direction, whether he chooses, work, further study or a gap year. The first year out of school presents a steep learning curve for teens as they adapt to new-found freedom. He will experience many new situations and his confidence and self-belief may wane. Watch for signs that your son may not be coping by speaking with him regularly about how he is feeling.
Encourage your son to see his friends and maintain his school friendships. While friendships in school were relatively easy to maintain through daily contact, your son will need to make more of an effort to see and stay connected with his friends after school is over. Also urge him to make new friends as social connections have a positive impact on emotional wellbeing.
While your son was most likely made to take part in sport and physical activity regularly while at school, he will not be compelled to stay active once school is over. Persuade your son to maintain physical activity by joining a gym, sports club or by simply getting active in an informal way on a regular basis. Physical health can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The end of school can be an exhilarating and exciting time for your son. It can also be a time of uncertainty and doubt. With your open communication, love and support you and your son can get through this time of immense change.
Trinity Grammar School has been educating boys for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed. We pride ourselves on our robust pastoral care system, supporting boys in their physical and mental development.
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