“Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true.” - Anonymous
In 2017, 32.6% of students went onto university, which means that their A Levels aren’t the end of their education. However, many others stop after their GCSEs or A Levels.
With better educational guidance, more young people could find their way in the confusing world of education. When it comes to looking for jobs, a lot of teens could do with better career resources and guidance both before and after graduation.
While teachers do have a role to play, career exploration and career development start with the parents who can help their teenage child make the right choices for their future.
So how can parents help their child with their career planning and career choices?
What Are the Parents’ Responsibility for Educational Guidance?
Adolescence is a difficult part of a child’s life and the last thing they want to do is to think about their career options and decide upon a career path. Their bodies are changing and they’re full of hormones, making them short-tempered. This can put stress on your relationship with your child and many parents often don't know where they stand. A child’s personality is formed during adolescence and rebellion is often part of that process.
However, this transitional period is also when they need to be thinking about their professional futures and career goals. Believe it or not, they could do with your help and support. While you mightn’t be a psychologist or guidance counsellor, you still play a vital role when it comes to educational guidance for your child.
There are four main aspects of your role:
- Communication: discussion and dialogue with your child are essential to ensure you and your child trust one another. Listen to what they want without judgement as this could discourage them from talking to you. They must feel comfortable with opening up because this is a difficult time for the child and it’ll allow them to openly express their dreams and aspirations. You can also talk with their teachers to better understand their academic strengths and weaknesses.
- Encouragement: secondary school students and sixth formers need recognition for their achievements. Thinking that good grades are the norm won’t help or encourage them to work harder. Don’t hesitate to show them how hard work and effort are related to good results; by working on x, I improved y.
- Avoid blame: you don’t need to put the weight of the world on their shoulders when it comes to choosing their future. There’s a strong probability that they feel lost in all of this and that's okay. Your role is to reassure them and remind them that they can always shift careers later on in life.
- Support: They need to feel supported and guided. Talk to them about your experiences, show them to career and study guidance sites, student forums, and university websites. Show them that you’re by their side and supportive of their choice.
As you’ll have understood, a parent plays an essential role in helping their child with educational and professional guidance.
Find out more about helping your teen with career choices.
Mistakes to Avoid when Guiding Your Child
Now that you know what your role entails, here are some mistakes you should avoid when trying to help your child. The biggest mistake is thinking that they don’t need your help. This is quite paradoxical as your child needs to make their own decisions but they also need your support. Be subtle and don’t be overbearing, show that you’re there if they need you and that you have the answers to the questions they’re asking.
Here are some common misconceptions:
- A good student doesn’t need guidance
- Grades aren’t important
- A child’s personality doesn’t matter
- The guidance doesn’t need to take into account the student’s wants
- Higher education is obligatory
- You don’t need to think about their academic and professional future
- Guidance counsellors aren’t necessary
Good students can be just as lost as struggling students. Just because a student gets good results, it doesn’t mean that they know what they want to do with them. School is very different from the world of work. Academic success is important for certain choices but it isn’t the only thing that employers take into account. Personality, aspiration, and skills are also often taken into consideration.
While degrees used to almost guarantee professional success, this is no longer the case. There are fewer opportunities for those with degrees than in the past. However, the second they get to secondary school, it’s drilled into them that university is everything. By the end of their GCSEs, they need to start focusing on what they want to do.
They should take a step back and think about what they’re interested in professionally and what they like and get in touch with a guidance counsellor.
How Can You Help Your Child with their Academic and Professional Choices?
As we mentioned previously, parents need to openly communicate with their children, listen to what they want, and help them with guidance.
So how can they do this?
Firstly, as soon as your child starts secondary school, slowly introduce them to the world of work. In Year 7, children have little interest or idea what work is all about and it’s just something that grown-ups do.
To help them to make better choices, you need to slowly open the door to the working world:
- Talk to them about your job and your experience.
- Bring them to work one day if you can.
- Explain to them what your job’s like: hierarchy, schedule, colleagues, tasks, etc.
- Ask friends and family if they can help them to discover different lines of work.
This will help them choose their work experience and find something in a field that they’re interested in.
Don’t hesitate to help them do their research. There are plenty of useful sites and resources you can use and student fairs and university open days that you can attend to see which universities and subjects they’re interested in. You can also help them by encouraging them to ask questions about educational guidance, their future, their personality, and their passions. This is a great way to work out what they want and guide them towards careers that they’ll find enjoyable and rewarding.
Finally, suggest that they meet a career counsellor to help them.
Are Academic Appraisals Free?
Academic appraisals and career counselling are useful for helping students decide what’s best for them by taking several criteria into account. Their exam results, personality, and likes and dislikes are all taken into account to see what line of work is best for them.
Some will struggle to find a career if they don't explore career options, get career coaching, or develop interviewing skills. Job hunting is tough when you know what you want to do, they need to ask themselves “What can I do?” and “What do I want to do?” and academic appraisals will help them answer the former. Attending a career fair could be a good way to answer the latter.
Not everybody's suited to academia and maybe a vocational course might be better and present them with more job opportunities. Usually, there are career services who can get you a career counsellor can help them with this but you'll have to pay for it.
This is the first step towards better understanding who they are and what they’ll be good at, even if the student already has a good idea of what they want to do. However, the point of an academic appraisal is to help put together a plan of what they can do and how they can do it.
There are plenty of these online but it’s best to do one face-to-face with a career counsellor. This might take some time, so talk to the counsellor about how long it’ll take. It’ll be worth it because they’ll have a lot of answers by the end of it. Certain students might need educational guidance or additional tutoring.
You can also find academic support tutors on Superprof to help your child regain confidence in their skills and make better choices for their career. You can expect to pay anywhere between £25 and £100 per hour depending on the tutor’s qualifications and experience. Effectively, the tutor can act as a career coach, helping them come up with a career plan, develop interview skills, discover employment opportunities, writing cover letters, etc.
Find out more about the cost of educational guidance.
So are you ready to help your child with educational guidance?