After supporting your child through the ups and downs of school life, you would think supporting them with their A-Level choices and move to university would be easy.

My mum always said “You never stop worrying about your child. It is just as they grow that what you worry about changes.”

Looking back to when I first heard this, at the age of 16, I realise that I never truly understood what she meant. Now that I am a parent of a 16 and 19 year old, I completely understand her statement.

When you have navigated your way through bullying, the introduction of social media and the stress that exams create, you think you would be ready for anything. However, supporting your child to make the right decision that the rest of their life depends on is an exhausting time.

So, how can you best support your child with their decision:

1.     What is the most important question that needs answering?

To make a decision you must first identify the problem you need to solve, the question you need to answer, or the opportunity you need to find, and then determine why this decision will make a difference to your child. It may be that your child is not happy at their current school, or they may be perfectly happy but want more independence. The jump from school to university can be a huge life-changing experience. Leaving school after GCSEs and attending a sixth-form college can be a bridge that helps with the final move to university. College life can be so different from school; no uniform, new transport routes, independence, study rooms, utilising latest technology during college hours and so much more.

2.     Gather relevant information

Next, it’s time to gather information so that you and your child can make a decision based on facts and data. This requires making a value judgment, determining what information is relevant to the decision at hand along with how you can find that information. Ask yourself what you need to know in order to make the right decision, then actively seek out anyone who needs to be involved. This could simply be location, cost and transport links – but also remember to ask the really important questions; is your child happy where they currently are? What subjects do they enjoy? If your child could change one thing today what would it be?

3.     Weigh up the evidence

There may be various solutions available to you. This is a good thing, as it can help determine which route is the best for your child. Be careful to ensure that all options provide a benefit and that you are not making a decision to change to an alternative education centre that just mirrors the current centre that they attend. At the moment, visiting new alternatives at the moment may be challenging due to the current unprecedented circumstances around COVID-19. Phoenix College is making sure that you can experience the full college experience online. We have designed a photographic tour and we will be hosting a Webinar event during which you can ask teachers and students any questions you have about college life.

4.     Choose among alternative options

Sit together and talk. Your child is the only one who truly knows what will make them happy. However, you are the only one that has been through the education process and truly understands the pros and cons of the options available. Remember, the decision is not only about the subjects they may study, but also about the environment in which they will flourish. Be aware that a change may mean no longer being with friends your child has gone through school with, and that the attachment to established friendship groups could hold your child back from making the right decision. On a recent tour, one of our teachers overheard a group of students talking to a prospective Year 10, “As it’s small, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. But I still see all my old friends outside of school and the teaching here is just fantastic. We’d rather be here than anywhere else!” said a Phoenix College student.

5.     Take action

Contact the relevant education centre and ensure that you understand the application process and requirements for being ready for the next year’s intake.

6.     It is Okay to be uncertain!

Remember, it is okay at the age of 15/16 for your child not to know what they want to study or what career they are aiming for. This is one element that can cause stress to your child’s daily life, and even keep them awake at night. While some children may have known from a young age what their future holds, others have no clue at all. That is okay. Tell your child it is okay to feel indecisive or have doubts, and that it is okay to think about what they enjoy studying and what makes them happy in relation to the choices ahead of them!

One of our parents recently said, “Our daughter seemed unhappy all the time. We were at a loss as to what to do. Preparation for GCSEs had taken its toll on her health and the support from her previous school was lacking. Then we found Phoenix College… Choosing Phoenix was daunting at first. She would need to commute to the city, and add an hour morning and afternoon to her school day; but the thought of the independence this would give her made her smile. Since starting at Phoenix College,  she has found her confidence. She is able to use the latest technology to support her studies during school time, and she gets to be who she wants to be. Thank you, Phoenix, for providing a high quality education whilst supporting our daughter to be the best that she can be for herself.”

If you find yourself facing some of the issues detailed in this blog feel free to contact us so that we can help you with the process.

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