A Fresh Start
By Bella Audsley
If there’s enough room left in the car, soon you may be driving your child – or we, should say, young adult – off to university. Starting university is a milestone, and not just for students – many parents come to us with numerous questions about how to help prepare their children for the next step in their education. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to help create a smooth transition for both you as a parent and your newly-fledged ‘fresher’.
Starting university often marks a gearshift in a parent’s involvement in their children’s lives. For some parents, it may be the first time their children are away from home, and the first time their children don’t have clear rules on what is and isn’t expected of them. As tempting as it may be to dive into your child’s extensive reading list or deliver a term’s worth of Tupperware meals, sometimes the most valuable support you can provide at this stage is the space for your child to try new things out independently.
In our experience, the best preparation for new university students is to arrive as a confident, critical thinker with an inquisitive mind. Independent learning is beneficial on many levels: it can increase motivation and confidence, raise a student’s self-awareness of their skills, and has also been linked to improved academic performance. Students who develop these skills early on are able to progress more quickly academically by applying their own ideas to problem solving, forming opinions and creating new learning strategies. Of course, developing a student’s independent learning skills is not about encouraging them to spend a 24-hour stint sitting alone in the library trying to read everything on their reading list. Mirroring the structure of university teaching, one-to-one tuition can offer a supportive and stimulating environment to cultivate these study skills and stretch learning beyond the curriculum. In collaboration with teachers and tutors, parents play a significant role in facilitating the shift of responsibility within the learning process. Whether it is encouraging your child to share their opinion on current affairs over dinner, or suggesting where they could find help with their studies, the careful balance lies in providing just enough support to enable your child to arrive at a resolution autonomously.
Every parent wants their child to feel confident when navigating the new experiences of university life: from organising their assignments to remembering to separate their washing. Often, providing children with the space to work out these trials for themselves (and to know where to go for help if they cannot), although daunting, allows them to embed in university life more quickly. Have faith that your child’s upbringing will hold them in excellent stead and allow them to navigate this exciting new phase with confidence.