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Starting Sixth Form

publication date: Sep 5, 2011
author/source: Anne Coates
teenagersStarting sixth form is a major milestone in your teenager's life. They will be treated more like an adult – a student – at school or college and will be expected to react and behave accordingly. Yet just a few months ago they were studying for GCSEs and were pupils!

Although parents may think their sixth formers are now responsible for their own studies, evidence shows many need a helping hand. Teenagers are notoriously bad at making responsible, informed decisions and many are convinced that when their friends say "I didn't do a stroke of work for this" etc they are telling the truth. Most are not!

Here are some areas where your sixth-former may need some help or guidance:

WorkloadA levels and BTecs are appreciably harder than GCSEs (a huge jump in some subjects). Students also have to manage some independent study and read around their subjects. Keep a copy of their timetable and coursework dates so you can help them prioritise and work accordingly.

Organisation – have a day file to take to classes and subject files at home so notes and essays can be stored neatly and accessibly. When your teen is working on a computer make sure they back up all their work – nothing is worse that losing essays or coursework!

Time managementplanning and preparation are crucial to studying effectively. Some subjects like drama, music and art have a heavier time commitment and this has to be taken into account. Plus sixth-formers have to factor in any extra curricular activities or voluntary work which will also help them with their university application.

Free periods – some courses, and some schools, offer more free periods than others and while it is tempting to socialise, students would be wise to include some study time. Discuss this with your teen's school. Some schools encourage sixth-formers to work in the common room or library, others allow students to return home to work.

Rest and relaxationsocialising during the week is generally not a good idea but having some fun at the weekend is. Teens need their sleep so make sure any computers, TVs and mobile phones are turned off at an appropriate time (and removed from their room if necessary).

Maintaining a dialogue – just as you were involved with your child's education during the earlier years, so you should be during the sixth form. Consult the school's or college's website to check for meetings and updates especially careers talks and university application.