There comes a day in every parent’s life when you have to realize that your child isn’t a little kid any more. Sure, in you’ll always think of them as that adorable troublemaker running around the house in diapers.
But, the fact is that they are, or are soon going to be, an individual in their own right. So, it’s important to treat them as such. Particularly when they announce they want to do something you may not agree with, like take a gap year after finishing high school.
So, before you freak out, take a step back and consider that taking a gap year may actually be beneficial in the long run. Instead of shooting the idea down, it’s better to sit down with your child and help them plan a gap year that will be both fun and a good investment for their future.
Developing useful skills
If they have a specific field of interest for their future studies or career, this is the perfect time to acquire extra skills that will be useful in that field. Research global trends and see which foreign countries are emerging as important players in your child’s field of choice – learning that language could end up being a crucial selling point when they start looking for a job in that field. Alternatively, they could learn a skill that has always interested them, but never had the time to properly learn, like playing a musical instrument, painting, photography etc. You never know, maybe they will discover they have a talent for it and can even make a career out of it.
Relaxing and having fun
While it may seem like simply slacking off, taking the time to relax and have fun is very important. After all, once they go off to college, it can be difficult to find time to relax between studying, exams, internships and job hunting. Plus, if they’re not really sure what they want to do in life, this is the perfect opportunity to decide what their passions are in a stress-free environment. Have them sign up for awesome schoolies in 2019, it’s a great experience where they can let their hair down and meet other like-minded young people.
By far the most popular choice for children taking a gap year, and with good reason – there’s nothing quite like seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. It’s incredibly inspiring and fulfilling and everyone who has ever gone on a long trip during their gap year agrees that it was one of the most meaningful and formative experiences of their lives. In addition to all this, it teaches your child some very important skills like independence, tolerance and responsibility that will immensely help them when they move out of the house and start living by themselves. If you are worried about being able to afford such a trip, there are numerous work and travel schemes that can alleviate the financial burden and allow them to travel to places that would otherwise be too expensive. Of course, safety is always a concern for every parent, so make sure to talk to them about travel safety tips, especially if they have never travelled alone before, but also make sure to give them space and not spoil their trip by being overprotective and/or overbearing.
Another way to make the gap year useful is for your kids to find a job in the field they are interested in, so they can get their foot in the door and see what it’s really like to do a job that they like. It looks great on a CV and provides them with some extra cash. Similar to getting a job, volunteering can also be a valuable source of work experience as well as demonstrate their compassion, which is important in certain lines of work, like being a veterinarian or a doctor.
Contacts and connections
Meeting new people is important, both on a professional and personal level. In the business world, this is called networking and it’s quickly becoming one of the most potent tools for starting as well as advancing a person’s career. All of the aforementioned activities will allow your child to meet new people, any of which could end up becoming someone important in their life, whether it’s a future colleague or boss, lifelong friend or even romantic partner.
Taking a gap year can give your child a boost to help them get the job (and life) of their dreams. All you need to do is to be loving, supportive and let them become the amazing person you know they can be.