Should my child take a gap year?


A gap year is an optional year that a lot of students take after school to explore the world while working part time.

Read more: Our empty nest

Some students know exactly what they want to study after school and would’ve already been enrolled in the university they were accepted to by the time their exams are over. 

Other students are ready to directly pursue employment on their first day out of school.

And then there are some who aren’t always quite sure and feel that a Gap year might benefit them and help them find their path.

Not for the faint hearted

A gap year shouldn’t mean some sort of free holiday or a trip overseas to relax. Traditionally, a gap year involved finding part time work to support you on your travels. 

Whatever the reason for choosing a gap year you'll want your child to know exactly where they plan on going and what they plan on doing when they're there. 

Here are a few gap year options: 

1. Summer camp leader

There are plenty of work and travel opportunities for camp leaders. Spending a few months as a camp leader in the USA is an awesome way to meet new people, be outdoors and make a bit of money while you're having fun there. 

Camp counsellors can be musicians, athletes, lifeguards to name a few, but some sort of experience with children is usually required. 

There are plenty of agencies that offer exchange programmes for summer camp leaders but be sure to research it well first. 

2. Work at a ski resort

The Alps, New Zealand, USA, there are resorts all over the world to choose ski jobs from. If you already enjoy skiing and think you're capable you could qualify to become a ski instructor. 

There are also other ski resort jobs to choose from if you want to work (bar managing, resort staff, chefs etc) while you learn to ski. 

3. Teach English

If you think you might be interested in language or teaching but don't want to commit to a long degree in case you change your mind, consider teaching English in a foreign country. You usually only need a Grade 12 qualification and a TEFL certificate which can be done in a short amount of time.

4. Au pair

Au pairing is a great way to see the world and have a base to come back to. Looking after and living with other families isn't for everyone but if you enjoy children and can adapt easily to different cultures and nationalities then au pairing could be just what you need for your Gap year.

5. Roughing it

Some young adults have a keener sense of adventure to explore the unknown than others. Backpacking is probably better to do with a friend or a group of friends although some do opt to do it alone.

You'll meet some pretty interesting people along the way and probably make new friends to continue your travels with.

How do you feel about your kids taking a gap year? Share your thoughts by emailing and we may publish your story. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please let us know.

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