What can I do to help my teenager do well at school?

The teenage years can be a wonderful time in a young person’s life but can also be a difficult period both socially and at school for both parents and teenagers.

It is a time when teenagers are developing independence, an adult identity and finding their place in the world.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to engage in your teenager’s learning and the way you engage with your teenager’s education will depend on the boundaries you and your teenager set together. The involvement you have with teenagers will be different from the involvement with younger children, when the focus is on establishing the foundations and good study habits.

In the teenage years, and in high schools more generally, the majority of parent engagement happens outside the school gate: it is important to allow teenagers to develop and test their independence.

Parent engagement in the teenage years is about:

  • being available to your teenage child to talk about the tough issues
  • helping teenagers to plan for their future
  • supporting your teenager to build confidence in their own identity
  • talking with your teenager about current world issues
  • discussing books, films or television programmes with your teenager
  • encouraging your teenage child to keep trying when school work is difficult

Research has found that young people who feel engaged and who have the opportunities to participate in education have better life outcomes.[i]

Parents, family and friends play an important role in a teenager’s learning. Completing high school is important for your teenager’s future as they progress from school to further education, training and work. During this time, it is important that teenagers are engaged in their education.

  • encouraging teenagers to ask questions – there is no stupid question
  • talking with your teenage child’s teachers through letter or email about how you can best support your teenage child’s learning


  • Talk to your teenager about their school work and help them to plan their workload.
  • Help your teenager to plan their school, work and social priorities.
  • Be available to talk your teenager when they want to talk.
  • Be ready to talk about the tough issues with no blame or judgement.
  • Be aware of the issues in your teenager’s life, school or circle of friends.
  • Keep an eye out for some of the issues teenagers face:
    • body image and self-esteem
    • bullying
    • drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Make sure your teenager gets enough sleep, exercise, fresh air and good food.
  • Talk about social media and how it affects them.
  • Encourage reasonable usage of social media.
  • Talk with your teenager about their dreams after compulsory schooling and help them to plan their future.

View more tips and advice for parents about communicating with your teenage children.


[i] Burns, Collin, Blanchard, De-Freitas & Lloyd, 2008, p.4.