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Supporting your child in college or sixth form

Starting college or sixth form can be daunting for both child and parent. You can support your child as they begin a new chapter in their life.

Take a look at our top 5 tips to support your child with their next steps.

1. Listen and be supportive

Starting college or sixth form may be a big change for your child. They will come face to face with experiences and responsibilities they may not have come across before, for example:

  • Catching a bus to a new area and/or campus
  • Taking more responsibility for the planning of their work
  • Studying subjects they’ve not studied before
  • Adjusting to a new timetable
  • Meeting and dealing with a variety of new people
  • Leaving their friendship groups and making new friends

To help your child with this transition, you could:

  • Speak to your child about any concerns or worries they have after their first week
  • Encourage your child to make full use of the help available to them in school, college and from Careers Wales
  • Find out any key deadline dates they need to work towards and offer to look over their work to proof read
  • Help your child plan how they will meet work deadlines. Some college and sixth form courses are not full time so assignment and project work can be done around lectures / lessons
  • Encourage your child to develop their skills and make the most of opportunities in college or sixth form, such as volunteering or being part of a club
  • Encourage your child to allow time to settle into college. It will take your child time to adjust to a new study environment. Many will not feel comfortable and confident for a number of weeks. This is normal and to be expected

However, if your child feels that they haven’t made the right choice then you and your child can seek support by:

2. Help your child find a work experience placement

Gaining work experience can be a mandatory element of some courses including the Welsh Baccalaureate. It is also good practice to go on work experience whilst in college or sixth form.

Work experience can help learners gain an insight into the labour market and to develop new skills and experiences to help them when job searching or applying for university in the future. It is also a great way to make new contacts which could lead to an apprenticeship or a job. You can:

  • Ask your child to speak to their Teacher / Tutor about where previous learners have been on work experience
  • Use a search engine to find out suitable local employers in the area
  • Ask your contacts
  • Get your child to phone companies or call into work premises with a CV and covering letter asking for work experience

3. Talk about your own experiences and life lessons

As parents you are key influencers. You will also have experience, positive and negative, of education, working with others and stepping out of your comfort zone and how best to handle such situations. Encourage your child to see that it’s good to step out of comfort zones and get new experiences. Talk to them about:

  • Working or being in a classroom with people they do not know or may not like. The skills and qualities they get from this such as experience of working with others, tolerance, listening to others, working in a team, will be valuable to add on a CV or application form
  • Taking responsibility for attending and arriving to lessons / lectures on time and completing work to deadlines. It is their responsibility to ask for help, and seek help if they are struggling with a piece of work. These are key skills to tell an employer about
  • The importance of research and planning for assignments, finding work experience and to apply for their next steps

4. Help your child to start planning their next steps

Giving your child a focus to work towards will help keep them motivated in college or sixth form. This could be planning their next options such as:

Encourage your child to take:

  • The Buzz Quiz to help them know more about their personality type and what jobs might suit them
  • Career Match Quiz to find jobs that match their skills and interests

5. Reassure your child (and yourself)

With the Covid-19 pandemic changing how young people may access lectures / lessons and college and sixth form life for the foreseeable future, it is important to remember not to let the worries and stress take over. Remember that:

  • Most people are feeling some sense of worry about the ‘new normal’ – this is to be expected
  • These challenges and new experiences can have positives, for example, developing independent learning skills and being resilient to any set backs in the future

There are people that can help. You and your child can speak to:

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