Supporting Your School-leaver During Gap Year
If your child has taken a gap year, for whatever reason, this year, they will need your support. In the beginning, especially if they are not travelling away from home, it could start out seeming like the best thing ever. Their days will be filled with nothing but time, but after a while it could be easy for them to fall into a depressive episode related to what they think they are missing out on and what their friends are doing in tertiary education, work or their travels.
Here’s how you can support your child during gap year:
What’s the goal?
Why has your child taken a gap year? What are his or her plans for the future? Do you both need to raise funds before your school leaver can pursue tertiary education or other dreams? Is your child just taking time off from the pressure and stress of school life? Once your child has figured out what he or she wants out of a gap year, half the battle is won.
What’s the plan?
This is your child’s journey. The key word here really is help. You cannot implement the findings from the above step for your youngster if he or she is to grow into a self-sufficient adult. School’s out and your teenager’s growth really should begin here.
If the reason for your child taking a gap year is financial, it’s going to be crucial that you both keep an open line of communication. If the goal is to raise funds for him or her to pursue education, then a plan with set milestones – such as how much money you need to put in the tuition account after six months – is going to be key.
If your child is going to be working during the gap year to help raise the funds, have a chat with him or her and establish how much money from his or her wages will be part of the fund, on a monthly basis. That way, your child will learn how much money is off limits and how much he or she can blow on entertainment, clothing or other fun stuff. After this discussion, leave it up to your child to take responsibility and remember his or her goal.
The importance of routines
Without the structured life of school and work, it’s easy to lose your routine and see things turn topsy-turvy. One moment you’re a good member of society the next you are going to bed at 3am, satisfied you have watched all the things on TV, and wake up at lunchtime.
If your child’s gap year doesn’t involve a part-time job, volunteering or travel, it’s important to help him or her stay in touch with the general responsibilities of life.
Give your child space
When you have set out your expectations of what your child should do in the house and with the family, give them their space. This is your school-leaver’s time to get to know himself or herself, while there is still the cushion of living at home during this year, he or she should know that you are there to help them should they need advice or just to talk.
Also read: Dealing With Bad Matric Results