It happens every year. It’s getting to the end of January, school is about to go back. Your child is recharged and ready to make it a strong start to the year.
And then, a few weeks later after the excitement dies down, you find them staring blankly at all their textbooks and losing steam.
It’s not just you. Many parents are left wondering exactly what holds their children back and why they run out of the motivation and fuel they need to consistently hit their goals throughout the year.
Having done this for many years with thousands of students and families, we’ve found three key indicators that significantly predict a child’s overall academic success and trajectory for the year. One is their exam results, which parents usually look at when it comes to their child’s academic potential. Another is their student engagement and motivation, which inherently drives them to be organised and proactive in learning. And there’s clarity or having a clear direction — and this is probably the one that gets overlooked the most and is labelled a ‘nice to have’ when really, it’s one of the easiest things to get right and takes the least amount of time or guesswork.
“I’m working towards Year 12, I know I want a good ATAR and get into university.”
This quote probably represents about a good two-thirds of all students when they start working with us. They’ve got a basic idea of where they’re heading (sort of)— but they’re a little hazy on the details in between. They haven’t been able to break it down into smaller, specific steps that they can tackle with confidence and see quick results from, and this, in turn, drains motivation and momentum as they progress throughout their academic journey.
It’s a lot more common than you think. Many students we speak to still have no idea at all what they want to do, and worse — they don’t know how to find that out either. They know they have their career counsellors and parents they could go to help fill in some of the gaps. And yet, there’s something about building the bridge and crossing with steps they’re happy to take that really holds them back.
Without a future direction, it becomes tricky because there’s no consistent motivation to push students to the finish line, which eventually turns into a blurred thought of “What am I even working towards now?” In this article, we will share three things that can help you support your child in establishing a clear sense of direction to anchor them throughout the year.
1. Let them chart their path to the future.
Since then, we decided to provide them with a way to chart a path to their future because the same problem persists. The NSW Department of Education’s annual report found only 66.5% of public school students made it to Year 12. Grattan Institute also found that 1 in 5 students is more likely to drop out of university than complete their degree.
Without the necessary guidance, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and put off discussions about the future. Unlike conversations about holiday destinations, conversations related to academic plans and future opportunities are often filled with uncertainty and self-doubt. Can I do this? What if I can’t?
Soon, it all becomes too complex and taking the first step becomes impossible. But a teenager who is moving at their own pace because they know it’s their natural course that they chose is going to carve out much stronger results than someone who feels like they’re wading through expectations from family or school, and not fully in control of their own future.
Students need a way to articulate what they want to achieve and self-select the steps they must take to get their ideal results. Having a way to navigate the intricate questions, like what they want to pursue or what type of career they see themselves in, is critical for motivation as they move into young adulthood.
2. Help build sustained motivation.
Another key ingredient to help your child get that clarity in direction is to work on motivation as a lifelong skill, not just something you flip a switch on. It can be tricky because, for the most part, we’ve always looked at motivation as some kind of feeling. But we can’t always feel something in an instant.
The challenge here lies in reigniting the spark and passion in your child so they can push in the right direction. Without a sense of direction lighting up their engine, there’s nothing to drive them and be motivated to succeed. This is something Cambridge University found in students who had a sense of purpose and direction — they were more likely to have a significant impact on academic success, about a 1.5 grade difference in Mathematics.
That’s why we love teaching teenagers how to build their motivation as a process. How do you add fuel when you start to feel a little drained? How do you store excess drive for tough times?
A clear direction enables teenagers to navigate their uncertain future with confidence, knowing they have all the steps they need to get there and the fire in their core to stay motivated in challenging times.
3. Implement and get it done.
Once each piece is in place, the last key is to implement the plan in a way that’s optimised. Your child has different strengths and unique blockers on their way, so they need to be well-supported and strategic as they go along. Ideally, students are equipped with techniques to redivert their energy into something productive and positive. We’re here to minimise the knocks and help build the resilience that can help your child go through their journey without hitting a breaking point.
This is where a tailored strategy comes into play perfectly because it’s anchored to a child’s unique learning profile — their strengths, areas they need support in, and their mental health. But always remember that a good strategy is only as good as its execution, and that’s where guidance from parents, teachers and coaches is mostly needed in the picture.
Providing your child with a solid and clear direction towards their future is more than just creating a project plan or charting a timeline for academic success. We must also understand the emotional and non-academic elements that make up your child’s learning experience.
There’s so much their sense of purpose can do, and we’re here to equip them with the necessary skills so they can design a brighter future on their own terms.
If this is a crucial area of your child’s learning that you want to improve this year, our education strategists are ready to brainstorm ideas on how we can transform their academic journey together. You can message us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find a time at https://calendly.com/kalibrate-ed/lets-chat.