Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to support your 16+ learner is their age. They are on the cusp of adulthood and probably long for more independence, so they may put up some resistance to your wanting to help them. At the same time they are still young and still need your support. It’s a fine line to balance and you may not get it right in their eyes, no matter how hard you try.
Don’t blame yourself, if you think back you probably found this a tricky time too.
So what can you do?
Showing an interest goes a long way to continuing a rapport with your teen around their education. Asking them about what they have been learning, taking the time to really listen and explore ideas with them sets a strong foundation. If they believe you know what they are talking about they are more likely to turn to you if they have any issues.
Knowing their school and college time tables, how their course is assessed and what it involves are all really useful to offering key support and identifying potential problems. Whilst it’s important to give them space, at the same you need to know what they are doing (or should be doing!)
Continuing to facilitate learning post 16 is also important. You may no longer be out buying them a Lego pencil-case but they do still need relevant study materials. Maybe you could take them shopping to stock up on supplies, help them create a supplies list or provide a budget?
They will also need a clear space to work. Much as their room may now be there private domain. Helping them set up a productive work station and filing system will be very useful to them.
Lines of communication can become tricky during these years as your teens life may revolve more around their peers, but good, consistent communication remains vital. Making a point of eating together at least a few times a week gives time for conversations and catch ups.
Some young people put a huge amount of pressure on themselves when studying. They need to be encouraged to take regular breaks, get fresh air and have fun too. Maybe you could plan a movie night or a meal out at their favourite restaurant to encourage a break and some family fun?
Diet and exercise are important throughout our children’s lives and in these post 16 years we have far less control over these areas. As ever, you tend to influence your children more by what you do than what you say. So keep your cupboards stocked with healthy snacks and let your kids see you go out for that jog. Make a concerted effort to offer healthy breakfast options and family meals and try and keep those times tension free so your teen is happy to join in.
They also need to hear from you that there are many ways to be successful and their whole life does not hinge on this period of study. Balanced with that, they need to understand how their studies can impact their future and they need help developing good routines around studying. Don’t be afraid to guide them and remind them of their goals.
Good luck supporting your 16+ learner!
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