Over the course of the year, I make a practice of meeting with each of our Year 12 students. We talk about their hopes and plans for next year and how they are progressing this year in reaching these goals. The students reflect on their study habits and examine the regular patterns of their lives, which either promote or hinder their progress.
One of the closing questions I ask each of our students is, “If you could travel back in time, to when you were in Year 9 and meet your younger self; what advice would you give, now you are in your final school year?”
I always enjoy the response of the students, as they consider what they have learned over the past three years and what they could pass on. Sometimes, students find it hard to know what would be the best advice for younger students. Others are much more forward with comments such as “Don’t stress out so much” and “Work harder while you can”.
Some students’ comments are very insightful. I have included a few at the end of this article. What they reveal is the importance of Years 9 and 10, within the big picture of learning at High School. Some students feel that this is a time of little change and little consequence in learning; the big start of High School seems a memory and the finish in Year 12 is still a long way off.
Contrary to this view, I would emphasise that Year 9 and 10 are critical years, in which student attitudes towards learning are consolidated and either good or bad habits for learning are bedded down, greatly influencing their senior years.
The student planners have the by-line ‘learn to learn, learn to excel’. While this applies equally to all years at school and throughout life, Years 9 and 10 are the perfect time for students to determine what learning structures and study techniques are beneficial. Equally, it is a good time to determine what parts of life can hamper learning and make choices to initiate changes for the positive. In many cases, finding what works best is on an individual basis.
Year 9 and 10 is the time to enjoy exploring learning with less pressure of Years 11 and 12. The beneficial outcome is that students enter their senior years with well-established habits and study routines in place and they are well positioned to respond to the increased expectations of workload.
So what can be done now to help students learn more efficiently in Years 9 and 10? The school’s wellbeing program in the High School (a fortnightly period lesson) addresses positive habits to promote learning. The planner is also a rich resource of material to help in this area. I recommend you take a moment to flick through the pages when your son or daughter asks you to sign it each week. The planner is also the place for students to record their homework and upcoming assessments, to save them the need to keep remembering what is due.
Pastoral care and class teachers can help in the establishment of weekly plans to schedule times for homework, assessments and study and time for family, physical activity and other commitments and also down times for relaxation.
Consider how the home environment can be maintained to help you son or daughter focus on school work when it is time to do so, and enjoy other activities separately. Consider the placement of study spaces and screen so students can separate study time from down time.
Thus Year 9 and 10 is quite the opposite of a slow time for student learning. It is in fact, a crucial time for learning how to learn, building a great foundation for future understanding.
I finish with some of our current Year 12’s wisdom.
”Listen to older kids, do your work to the full potential but don’t make yourself sick over it. Balance forming strong friendships with school work.”
“Don’t procrastinate as the switch to Year 11 is very dramatic, so get into work mode as quickly as possible.”
“Use junior high to learn how to write essays, don’t wait until senior school. Ask more questions about assessments.”
“Start preparing skills of exams and assessments earlier. Sort out time management, motivation and know your goals.”
“Don’t stress out in relation to assessments, to avoid burnout, but work at building good habits.”
“Have a good balance between schoolwork and relationship with friends. Have a relationship with God.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
In His Service,