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A Family’s Guide to Supporting Children for Learning Success

Parents and families are the first and most enduring educators of their children. They lay the foundation that all future learning is built upon. As one of the most important periods of their lives, it’s crucial that our children are equipped to navigate adolescence academically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here’s how families can help their children engage in successful learning while fostering healthy habits that will foster a lifelong love of learning.

Fostering a Love of Learning

Fostering a lifelong love of learning is the best way for parents to help their children achieve academic success. This approach reinforces the idea that learning opportunities exist in many different areas of life, not just in the classroom.

Encouraging your child to explore subjects they’re passionate about and engage in curiosity-driven learning experiences are great ways to foster a love of learning. This can be as simple as reading regularly, discussing current events, and exploring new hobbies that can develop new skills. 

By demonstrating enthusiasm for learning and encouraging intellectual curiosity, parents can help children develop a growth mindset and a thirst for knowledge. Modelling how adults learn from their mistakes or setbacks is another wonderful way to demonstrate to children how we are all lifelong learners.

Developing a Healthy Attitude Towards Learning

Nurturing a healthy perspective when it comes to learning is essential. Learning is much more than a mark on an exam or on a report card and an individual’s worth is never defined by a mark or grade. 

This is where it’s important to help your child adopt a mindset focused on doing their best rather than fixating on perfection. Parents can help alleviate this pressure by emphasising the importance of personal effort and growth rather than achieving a particular mark or grade. Reminding your child that their worth extends beyond results is a great way to instil resilience, perseverance, and self-worth, especially if they do not achieve the results they hoped for.

Tackling Assessment Anxiety

Some students (and families) regard the assessment of learning with anxiety and, in extreme cases, fear. The fear that they will achieve low marks or not be accepted into their chosen pathway can be incredibly damaging to their confidence and self-worth – feelings that can stay with them long after the exam period is finished.

We can guide our children through this by encouraging open communication about their feelings and concerns regarding exams. Remind them that while it’s normal to feel anxious, their academic performance does not dictate their value. 

It can also be helpful to encourage healthy habits – such as mindfulness techniques and regular exercise – as well as healthy relationships. Stress and anxiety are contagious, so parents and students will ultimately feel a greater sense of wellbeing when they prioritise relationships with positive, uplifting people.

Establishing a Healthy Routine

When students are feeling stressed and busy preparing for assessments, mental and physical wellbeing is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, when we don’t take care of our minds and bodies, we are unlikely to perform our best regardless of how many hours we spend studying.

This is why we must encourage children to prioritise self-care habits such as eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active. All too often we see students staying up all night to cram for that big exam, but this ultimately does more harm than good. Getting a good amount of sleep is one of the best things a student can do for their performance, as it enhances memory consolidation and cognitive function.

Research also suggests that eating a balanced breakfast before exams can improve concentration and performance. According to a study published in the Journal of School Psychology, students who eat a healthy breakfast have higher levels of motivation and achievement for the day. These healthy habits are essential to helping your child feel their best mentally and physically so they can perform their best too.

Identifying Alternative Pathways

For many students, the thought of not achieving the marks they need to pursue their chosen pathway can feel like the end of the world. However, as any adult knows, school exams are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to success. 

If your child is worried about this, it can be helpful to remind them of all the alternative pathways available to them if they don’t achieve the marks they are hoping for. Vocational Education and Training (VET), TAFE courses, bridging courses, and apprenticeships are just some of the options available to students after high school. When children understand that there are multiple paths to reaching their goals, they can approach their final exams with greater peace of mind and perspective.

For many children, school exams will be a great test of resilience and determination. As parents, it’s our responsibility to help them navigate this period healthily and sustainably. After all, school is a beginning, not an ending. Teaching children to approach education with this mindset will ensure that they succeed long after their school career is over.

 

Maura Manning is the CEO of EREA NSW, which governs seven distinguished Catholic Boys’ schools rooted in the Edmund Rice tradition. Maura has a unique blend of system and school leadership experience across independent, Catholic and public schools in NSW, and has a deep commitment to staff development, educational leadership, professional learning, and curriculum design.

Maura has a Master’s degree in Gifted Education and a Masters of Educational Leadership by Research from UNSW Australia. Her research delves into the intricate processes and structures leading innovation in schools.

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