Help your child choose the right school subjects

By Drum Digital
13 May 2014

Choosing school subjects might seem equally scary for children and parents. Surely these choices will affect your child’s study options, career choices and future in general? Don’t worry; we’re here to help with some expert tips.

When are subjects chosen?

From Grades 10 to 12 your child has to take at least seven subjects. Four of these have to be English, a second South African language, life orientation and either mathematics or mathematical literacy. The remaining three subjects are selected from 27 options ranging from accounting, science and art to business economics, computer technology and tourism. Here’s some advice to help you assist them with making these important decisions ahead of Grade 10.

How to choose the right subjects

  • Find out what your child is good at

Determining your child’s strengths can be quite helpful. Make a checklist of each subject and ask yourself whether they enjoy it, are good at it and whether it suits their learning style, or it is going to assist them in the future. The subjects with the most ticks should get preference.

  • Encourage your child to look back on achievements

It’s important for your child to assess their previous achievements in subjects. These achievements will tell you and them more about their abilities, commitment and enthusiasm.

Don’t buckle under peer pressure

It can be tempting for your child to choose a subject simply because their best friend did so and they want to be in the same class. However, the reality is they’ll most likely go their separate ways when doing their tertiary studies. Don’t let a fear of change influence your child’s decision about their future.

  •        Plan ahead

As your child matures and learns more about themselves and interesting careers, their choices could possibly change. Their subjects should facilitate the broadest possible range of choices for further education, training or meeting a possible employer’s expectations.

  • Get a helping hand

Ask a teacher or a career adviser for advice. They might have some ideas about what subjects would suit your child best. It’s also always a good idea to get more information about each subject offered – especially the ones your child hasn’t had before.

  •  Don’t panic

Relax! Education is a lifelong activity and your child will have opportunities to study other things at a later stage if they want to.

What about dreaded maths?

With the introduction of maths literacy as an alternative to core mathematics, it’s important to consider which one your child will benefit from most.

Core mathematics involves abstract problem-solving and reasoning. If your child wants to pursue a career in engineering, accounting or actuarial and medical science, this is the choice for them.

Maths literacy focuses on skills rather than content. It will equip your child with an understanding of the day-to-day workings of mathematics and will allow them to pursue a career in social and life sciences.

According to Professor Jonathan Jansen, vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State, mathematical literacy is a cop-out of sorts. Those who agree with him are of the opinion that switching to mathematics literacy might be beneficial in the short term as it might improve a school’s overall pass rate and help your child matriculate easier. However, it could also handicap your child in terms of further studies and career options.

Either way, experts say it’s of the utmost importance your child chooses either of the two maths options as a subject.

Why is maths important?

  • It will make your child more analytical: Maths will improve your child’s critical thinking.

  • It will make tertiary studies easier:Yes, it’s hard work to learn maths properly while in high school. But this skill will stand them in good stead at university.

  • It opens new doors to amazing opportunities:Mathematics opens doors to diverse studies and careers.

When in doubt

Apart from the course counsellors or teachers at your child’s school, you can also get help here:

- Janine Nel

Sources: mathguide.com, careers.govt.nz, polity.org.za, myworldofwork.co.uk, southafrica.usembassy.gov

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