Each year, as assessment pressure mounts, Year 12 teachers see our students falling into bad habits, convincing themselves that they are too busy for breakfast or regular exercise. Many have poor diets and fail to get sufficient sleep. All of these factors have a detrimental impact on their ability to be the most effective students that they can be.
Of course, we all know how easy it is to let self-care take a backseat when we’re busy. One of the most important roles we play as parents and educators, however, is in teaching our children how to make healthy choices that will benefit them in all areas of their lives as they become young adults.
With this in mind, our Manager of Psychology Services, Dr Sharon Greenberg, has registered Moriah College for access to SchoolTV – a wonderful online resource available to all parents and students. This online repository contains a wealth of material addressing major topics of interest to parents, with a new theme added to the archive each month. There are expert interviews, fact sheets, recommended apps, books and much more.
Information is aggregated from many different reliable sources and it is presented in a user-friendly and engaging manner. The website provides resources for parents of children of all ages, and this week, I would like to direct parents in particular to the ‘Surviving Year 12’ resource.
Watch and learn
In a series of short video interviews, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg – one of Australia’s leading psychologists and parenting experts – addresses the following themes:
- What does Research tell us about the Psychology of Year 12?
- What is the optimal study time for students?
- Why is sleep so important in Year 12?
- How important is exercise in Year 12?
- Can diet impact a student’s function and performance?
- How important is breakfast for a student’s brain function?
- What advice do you have for students who get a bit stressed?
- Can students study and listen to music at the same time?
He quotes research that clearly shows that adequate sleep (at least nine hours a night) is the single most important study tool. He emphasises the adverse effects of reading from backlit devices immediately before sleep, and encourages dimming the lights at least 30 minutes before bedtime to help increase the production of melatonin.
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg will be visiting Moriah soon for an exclusive evening with parents.
His advice regarding a nutritious breakfast is very important:
“Given that the brain contains 100 billion brain cells and a thousand trillion connections, it needs glucose from carbohydrate as an energy source.”
Carr-Gregg recommends cereal or toast as a source of carbohydrate and suggests both eggs and yoghurt for the micronutrients and amino acids contained that are critical for the production of neurotransmitters that tend to be depleted under stress. He also suggests blueberries, fish oil, avocado and walnuts, or any combination of these.
I particularly enjoyed listening to the segment on exercise. He described a wonderful research study that showed an exponential increase in memory and recall when ‘couch potatoes’ engaged in exercise. Carr-Gregg recommends an hour a day of (ideally team-based) exercise, believing this to be as important as diet and sleep.
Supporting our students
In addition to this new online resource which is predominantly for parents, we have a number of offerings for our students at Moriah to help them achieve their best.
Our Wellbeing Mentor sessions encourage students to build positive and productive relationships with their mentors. Students are given the opportunity to focus on organising and planning their time effectively during these sessions, as well as setting goals for the year ahead.
All of our HSC students have access to:
- Individual sessions with our High School psychologists and Heads of House
- ‘HSC Stress Less’ eight-week course with our College psychologist, Yuli Dar
- Career counselling with Mrs Turner
Last week, our Year 12 cohort was addressed by YSAFE’s Yasmin London on the topic of ‘Switching off technology to enable sleep’. And later this week, we are looking forward to a presentation from Macquarie University’s Wayne Warburton on ‘Screen Addictions’.
We aim to find and provide the best possible resources for our students and parent body, and we look forward to uncovering and sharing more secrets to success with you all in the very near future.
About the Author
Jan Hart is the Head of High School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.