4 Tips to help your child choose the school subjects to make their dream career a reality

4 Tips to help your child choose the school subjects to make their dream career a reality

Published on 26th November, 2021 at 02:53 pm

Selecting the right matric school subjects is the first step for your child to achieve their career goals. Here’s how to help them choose wisely so that they can turn their dream career into a reality.

One of the pillars of good parenting is to provide your children with a quality education. This is the foundation on which they will learn, grow and, hopefully, build a fulfilling career. One of the most important decisions that a teenager will have to make is which school subjects to choose. This decision can be a daunting and overwhelming one, as it can limit or broaden their options when it comes to their tertiary studies.

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Subject selection

According to the National Department of Basic Education, Grade 12 learners need to take seven subjects to obtain their National Senior Certificate. Four of these are compulsory subjects, and the remaining three are chosen at the end of Grade 9 to be taken until matric. This means that high schoolers should have some idea of the career path they would like to pursue. However, it’s not uncommon for them to be conflicted or confused, either.

“Teenagers are still exploring themselves, having new experiences and developing their interests, so it’s normal for many adolescents to be unsure about what they’d like to do after school,” say Prof Anthony Naidoo and Dr Michelle Visser of The Grade 9 Career Guidance Project team, an online resource designed by the psychology and industrial psychology departments at Stellenbosch University. For this reason, it’s important that guardians play a supportive role during this stage of their development.

Supportive, however, doesn’t mean living vicariously through your child. “Sometimes parents want their children to pursue similar occupations to them, but it’s crucial to allow youngsters the space to explore their own career prospects,” they caution. “Everyone is unique, and that uniqueness is what makes a child – and future employee – successful in their job. It’s all about finding the context in which their uniqueness fits.”

Here are four ways that you, as a parent or guardian, can help your high schooler choose the subjects to stand them in good stead to embark on their dream career.

#1: Explore different resources

“Various resources exist to support adolescents when choosing subjects that will be beneficial for their career after school,” say Prof Naidoo and Dr Visser. Job shadowing is one hands-on way to establish whether a job is what your child had envisioned. “Some tertiary institutions also provide free services in the form of group sessions or online webinars that may help with the subject choice process.”

The internet is also a good place to turn to for ideas. There are several online resources – many of them free! – that can shed some light on various career paths and the matric subjects required to get them there. These include:

#2: Identify their aptitude

“If possible, it would be valuable to explore your child’s interests, aptitude and personality to give some indication of what career options will fit them best,” Prof Naidoo and Dr Visser explain. “For example, if they are interested in the sciences and technology, good subjects to consider would be mathematics and life or physical science. If they are interested in working with people or are business orientated, languages, consumer studies and economics may be more useful.”

Finding out your teenager’s strengths and weaknesses can be done in several ways. “Contacting an educational psychologist who can help with subject choices is an option. Parents can also enquire about career-counselling services (which are offered at most universities) for psychometric assessments. This can be particularly helpful for learners who are tentative or undecided.”

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#3: Talk to your child

The easiest and most obvious way to help your child choose their matric subjects is to talk to them. “Not all parents and children have access to some of the available resources, especially due to factors like availability, financial cost or time constraints,” say Prof Naidoo and Dr Visser. “What they can do to offer their support, however, is to invest time and effort into helping them find information about possible careers they are interested in. They can also take the time to discuss these options with their child.”

Once your high schooler’s interests have been established, it can make selecting subjects significantly easier. “Careers that your child finds interesting will help inform their subject choice. And your time and support as a parent or guardian are invaluable in helping your child explore career aspirations and goals together.”

#4: Consider the future

Some jobs that used to exist in the past are obsolete today. This is because we live in a technologically advanced and increasingly automated world. While this is in some ways a sad thing, the upside is that there are exciting up-and-coming industries that will need a workforce in the very near future. “The IT industry is probably going to have many different opportunities in terms of big data, cyber security, programming and robotics,” the experts explain. Other careers of the future include jobs in sustainability and biohacking.

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It’s important not to get tunnel vision, either. “Instead of trying to pursue a career that doesn’t exist yet or predict growing opportunities, it may be more valuable to develop skills and acquire knowledge that could be beneficial in a changing world. A characteristic of new and upcoming career opportunities is the element of lifelong learning, which is a skill that can, and should, be cultivated,” add Prof Naidoo and Dr Visser.

Give your child the academic edge they need to succeed. As a Sanlam Reality member, you have exclusive access to Ivy Online, a free supplementary education platform based on the CAPS curriculum, for Grades 8-12. Click here for more information.

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