Mind the gap year

2016-05-24 06:00

Midyear exams are underway, and your matric scholar should be sharing their aspirational plans. Do they want to pursue further education, join the working world or a thought more scary… take a gap year?

Parents often fear that their child may be left behind, sleep the whole day and party all night; or, that they lose momentum and never go back to study.

Take a look at the pro’s and cons of a gap year. Start by asking them a simple question: “what do you want to achieve by taking a gap year?”

Be open minded to the possibility that your child is exhausted and uninspired after 13 years of schooling. Your child may simply be looking for opportunities to travel or grow their knowledge base through work experience. Perhaps they have plans to focus on other aspects of their personal development though community work or to discover their driving passion. Your child’s happiness is as important as their independence.

Another challenge to consider is the fear of failure and separation from circles they have become subconsciously dependent on. Your child could be unable to see the implications of their decisions made in fear of being ostracised or rejected. Be aware of this emotional challenge and try seeking opportunities to expose them to new experiences, which will buffer their resilience to change. Being able to adapt to a changing environment will help them cope throughout life’s curve balls.

Keep in mind that children are encouraged to start thinking and making decisions for themselves earlier in life, verses days when teenagers were forced to leave school early to seek employment. If your child is able to display a clear plan of growth, even if just though menial employment opportunities, it might help them mature enough to realise that you can’t drive a Ferrari or find a solution to solve world hunger without proper further education. Being able to take a gap year may be the one thing to help your child realise how fortunate and necessary a higher education is to achieve your dreams.

V This column was contributed by False Bay TVET College. Look out for more study success strategies in People’s Post in the last week of every month or go to www.falsebaycollege.co.za.

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