Life beyond the HSC – don’t forget there is one!

I don’t know whether it’s a result of having been a teacher once upon a time or because I have lived longer than my children, but HSC time is one of those where I have just thought “it’s OK – just give it a go and do your best”. I have never seen the point of making a big deal out of these exams.

I vividly remember a teacher of one of my children around HSC time being more concerned than I about her performance. I also remember suggesting to the teacher she “back off” and just let things be.

I believe there are some things we just cannot control and my children’s HSC results is one of them.

Don’t get me wrong —there is a lot parents can do to support their children, ensuring  they are providing the best environment possible with lots of emotional support, keeping the home waters calm and so on… but ultimately, as the “grown-ups” know, the HSC will come and go and life moves on.

Having two children who have completed the HSC, I learned that they responded best when I was calm. They enjoyed good food although the odd handful of “gummy bears” was also a requirement for one of them.

As a family, we didn’t ask too much of our children through these times. Household jobs were kept to a minimum, expectations that they accompany us to every family event reduced, reminding them to leave their room periodically and get outside and get some fresh air,  spend some time with friends or make sure they didn’t miss soccer training again were also part of the deal.

Just make time to talk about anything other than the HSC. If they find something that works for them, help foster it. My eldest daughter reminded me that she liked a bunch of rosemary on her desk and a particular type of pen and paper.

If you notice they aren’t travelling well and are feeling overwhelmed with commitments, have a chat with them. Encourage them to talk to their supervisor, if working part-time, or their sport coach. Offer to do this for them if they feel unable to do so.

If you have concerns about them, you can also always chat with your GP for expert advice and support. Your child’s school will be very keen to partner with you and your child and will also be able to offer advice and support so don’t hesitate to make the call.

Beyondblue also has great fact sheets

I asked my eldest child what she remembers about the advice I offered to her and what she felt worked best. She completed the HSC years ago now and is still busily studying.

Her advice to students is:

  • Set realistic goals for study.

  • Reduce social media use – maybe use “checking in” time as a reward and definitely turn off your phone while studying.

  • Chunk your time – work for 50 minutes and then allow yourself 10 minutes of time out.

  • Use your school timetable as a guide to setting study timing. This can be useful for students who might not be sure how to set up a study timetable.

  • Make posters for quotes, equations and timelines.

  • Have something to look forward to –meeting friends for a swim, whatever!

Above all else, let them know you love them unconditionally, that their entire lives don’t rest on these exams and whatever happens – you are always there for them.


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Cath Garrett-Jones Image
Cath Garrett-Jones

Cath is the Professional Officer (Parent Liaison & Resources) with the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese Schools Office.