Abbotts College, Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education

Navigating Third Term Turmoil: A Guide for Parents

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  • Category Abbotts College, Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education

In my almost two decades as an educational professional, I have witnessed a recurring pattern that I’ve come to call “Third Term Turmoil.” This phenomenon typically occurs in the August/September period, where teenage disciplinary issues tend to peak. I’ve developed a theory to explain this pattern, which centers around seasonal changes and academic pressures. As spring arrives and summer break approaches, students become restless and eager for leisure, leading to decreased motivation for academic work and a surge in the desire for recreational activities.

Academically, the third term is when teachers finalise their curriculum and prepare for year-end examinations and assessments. The mounting pressure for students to excel can contribute to heightened stress and anxiety, often manifesting as behavioural issues in the classroom. Moreover, after months of intense academic and extracurricular activities, both students and teachers may experience fatigue, and plummeting levels of patience and tolerance, which can lead to further discipline problems. Changes in the daily routine, such as field trips and special events, also disrupt the classroom structure and exacerbate discipline issues.

While these observations are based on my experience, they reflect a common reality in many schools. Teachers often find themselves struggling to keep students motivated, manage incomplete work, and handle disruptive behavior. 

The key question we must then address is how to prevent burnout, lack of motivation, and the resulting disciplinary challenges. To assist parents in navigating this challenging period and ensuring a smoother end to the school year, I offer several pointers for discussion with their children:

  • Goal Setting: Encourage your child to set clear academic and personal goals for the remaining school year. Concrete objectives can help maintain motivation.
  • Time Management: Teach your child effective time management skills to balance academic work, extracurricular activities, and leisure time.
  • Open Communication: Create an open and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable discussing challenges or concerns they may be facing at school.
  • Stress Management: Equip your child with stress-management techniques, such as mindfulness exercises or relaxation strategies, to cope with academic pressures.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Promote a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep, as these factors play a crucial role in maintaining physical and mental well-being.
  • Reward System: Implement a reward system for accomplishing academic milestones or completing assignments promptly. This can provide motivation and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Seek Support: If discipline issues persist or escalate, consider involving teachers, school counselors, or other professionals who can provide guidance and support.

Parents play a pivotal role in fostering positive behaviour, respect for teachers, and discouraging substance use among their children. Here are additional pointers for parents to guide their children on how to behave at school and cope with stress:

  • Respect for Teachers and Peers: Teach your child the importance of showing respect to their teachers and classmates. This includes active listening, politeness, and courtesy.
  • Responsibility for Their Actions: Encourage your child to take responsibility for their behavior at school, understanding that actions have consequences.
  • Conflict Resolution Skills: Equip your child with effective conflict resolution skills and teach them to communicate concerns or disagreements respectfully.
  • Anti-Bullying Awareness: Discuss the significance of standing up against bullying and supporting classmates who may be victims. Teach your child to make independent, informed choices and develop assertiveness skills.
  • Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Encourage stress relief through sports, art, or music while discouraging substance use.
  • Drug and Alcohol Education: Have honest conversations about the risks associated with substance use, providing accurate information.
  • Lead by Example: Be a role model by demonstrating respectful behaviour, healthy coping strategies, and responsible decision-making.
  • Monitor Online Activity: Keep an eye on your child’s online activities to ensure they are not exposed to harmful influences. Maintain regular conversations with your child about their school experiences and emotional well-being.

By incorporating these pointers into your parenting approach, you can guide your child toward responsible behaviour, respect for teachers and peers, and a healthy approach to managing stress. Open communication and a supportive environment are key elements in promoting positive behaviours and well-rounded development.

By Marion Kohler – Abbotts College JHB South

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