Checklist aims to help families cope with NCEA study leave

TOUGHLOVE has called on parents to stay connected with their teenage children’s needs, as they prepare for their NCEA and other exams.

 The parent support organisation has also issued a checklist (see attachment), aimed at helping families ensure their teenage members make the most of pre-exam study leave.  

TOUGHLOVE Auckland’s Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Andrews, describes the period from early November till just before Christmas as characteristically fraught and tetchy, with many parents working particularly hard, as the business year peaks prior to the long summer break. 

“There’s a danger that, amidst all the hurry and stress, even highly conscientious parents might have difficulty staying connected with their teenagers,” he says.

“This, however, is also a time of year when parental support and involvement can be crucial to teens, many of whom are taking part in NCEA exams, which can have a significant impact on their prospects in life. Others, meanwhile, will face internal school examinations, which can also be stressful.         

 “A particular cause for concern can be teens on study leave prior to their NCEA exams.  Not all teenagers are equally focussed and self-disciplined and working parents will, quite naturally, worry about whether, in the absence of supervision, the kids are getting on with their studies.

“For this reason, TOUGHLOVE has put together a thirteen point checklist for parents of teens with study leave.  We believe our checklist will help these parents stay effectively involved, despite the work pressures that are normal at this time of year,” he adds.

The checklist recommends that parents talk to their teens, pointing out how they’re being trusted to stay focussed on their studies, how their exams are important and how success is typically a product of hard work.  At the same time, the list stresses the need to acknowledge teens’ efforts and commitment to their studies. 

Other recommendations are that parents set clear but reasonable boundaries over what’s acceptable, make it absolutely clear whether or not they want their teen’s friends visiting the house during the working day and ask their teen to develop a study timetable for discussion with them.

In addition, the checklist suggests that parents help their teenagers develop time-management skills and encourage them to balance study with relaxation.  And also on the list is the suggestion that parents keep their sense of humour throughout what is inevitably a stressful time.  

“With a bit of prompting and a lot of love and support from their parents, most teenagers can be expected to take a mature and responsible approach to study leave.  But the distractions are many and obvious, including the temptations of the great outdoors, as the weather warms up.

“Young people need fresh air, exercise, fun and relaxation as well as adequate time to study. But it’s not always easy for them, or anyone else, to get the balance right,” says Geoff Andrews, who is himself a former teacher.

 “In addition, even the most mature and responsible teens might have friends who have no intention of studying and who are out on the streets or at home wasting time. The best way for parents to counter such influences is to stay as involved as possible throughout the exam period.

“Of course, parents can have it much tougher if it’s their own kids who are out on the streets instead of studying, let alone if their kids have decided they want to leave school without qualifications, have no intention of turning up for their exams and might not even be motivated enough to look for a job.

“In such cases, parents can easily feel overwhelmed with stress, anxiety and a sense of shame and failure.  When that happens, they need support in rebuilding their often shattered self-confidence and in guiding their teenagers back onto the track to a worthwhile future,” he says.

“We strongly recommend that parents faced with these and other forms of unacceptable teenage behaviour consider participation in a TOUGHLOVE parent support group.  And we also recommend participation for those with generally well-behaved teens, who nevertheless see the need to improve their parenting skills.

“Our support groups meet weekly around New Zealand and provide not just a sympathetic forum but also the opportunity to learn proven and effective strategies from other parents who have experienced similar problems,” Mr Andrews adds.

According to a survey carried out between October 2011 and April 2012 by Wellington-based research company, Litmus Limited, 91 percent of parents attending TOUGHLOVE groups would recommend the experience to other parents.  Of those surveyed, 32 percent also agreed that involvement with TOUGHLOVE had led to better education, training and employment opportunities for their teens.

 “Contrary to a widespread misconception, the name TOUGHLOVE doesn’t mean we favour a heavy-handed, authoritarian approach.  Instead, our name reflects the twin truths that parenting is a tough job and that love is an essential ingredient in helping young people behave responsibly and realise their potential,” says Geoff Andrews .

 Further information concerning TOUGHLOVE is available at or by telephoning the freephone number: 0800 868 445.

 For further comment, please contact:

 Rachel Wilson
National Administrator
03 3087748 , 0276300154



Released by Ian Morrison of Matter of Fact Communications.

Phone: 09-575 3223, Fax: 09-575 3220,