Tips for Parents

Preparing and planning for life after school

Finishing school is a huge achievement and marks a real rite of passage for a young person – moving into adulthood. It’s an exciting time with plenty of new opportunities for them. To get the most from these opportunities they need to be confident about what they want from life when they leave school.

It can be difficult for them to articulate precisely what it is they want to do and equally difficult for you to assist them. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your son or daughter clarify what they want from life and how to go about preparing and planning for it.

Here are a few tips that might help you:

Help them develop a personal vision

A personal vision is the future someone imagines for themself and it can look anyway they want it to.

You son or daughter’s vision is the destination they want to get to. Their vision could be holistic and consider things like how they will fill their day (work or study); where and with whom they want to live; their role/s in community; spirituality or faith and relationships. Or it could focus on just one of these elements.

Consider what they’re good at

It can be tough to identify what you want from life at a young age. Sometimes young people have difficulty identifying their vision. You know them better than anyone else; if they are struggling with this, draw on your knowledge and experience of who they are and what they might want.

Think about their strengths, what they’re good at and what they enjoy. Building something around these is often a great place to start. Consider asking other family members or friends what they see as your son or daughter’s strengths; often they will see things differently.

The trick though is to start something; they can (and probably will) always change their mind, and that’s ok too. They are still learning who they are and making choices and changing them is all part of it.

Write their vision down

Encourage and support them to write their vision down. There is something incredibly powerful about having your vision written down; simply putting it on paper demonstrates a commitment to it. It also acts as a great reference point if you find they are veering away from what they have identified they want.

Capturing their vision also allows them to share it with others. If teachers, friends and others don’t know what they want from life they can’t really help them get there.

Having their vision written down allows your son or daughter to take it with them for their Senior Education and Training (SET) planning meeting. Reflecting their vision in a SET Plan will ensure their final years at school help them get to where they want to be.

Help them act on their vision

A vision is only useful if you do something with it. Helping your son or daughter understand the importance of converting their vision into a plan is crucial.

If their vision is their desired destination; their plan is the map on how to get there and their goals are important markers along the way.

Without a plan of how to achieve it, their vision is just a wish.

Develop a plan

For a plan to be a good map it needs to clearly identify the steps they, you and others will take to get them where they want to be after school.

Write down their plan; consider using the SET Plan template from school, it’s a great tool to guide their final years at school. By using the SET Plan you’ll ensure their teachers are on the same page with you about the future they want.

If your son or daughter is considering seeking financial assistance through My Future: My Life they will need to have a very clear plan with specific goals for life after school to accompany their application.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, you’ll be surprised how willing people are to help, particularly when a young person has a clear picture of what they want and has a plan about how to get there.

There will be things your son or daughter wants and you may not be the best person to help. When thinking about asking for help, consider who might be best to help with different parts of their plan, don’t just consider people you or they already know.

Start early

Typically young people begin thinking and talking about their life after school from late in year 8 or early year 9. The sooner they capture their vision the sooner they can start developing their plan and putting it into practice.

If a young person has potential barriers in their life, starting early is even more important to ensure their plan considers how these barriers can be overcome.

Being clear about their vision will mean that when they develop their SET Plan in year 10 you can help them ensure it really reflects what they want. It will be their plan designed around the future they imagine and want for themself.

Dream big, have high expectations

Don’t be too conservative. As parents we are naturally protective and often when a child has a disability, as parents we can be extra cautious. Young people learn, grow and develop based on the experiences they have and the opportunities they are exposed to.

Stretch your thinking, encourage and support them to aim past what is easily achievable; don’t make it so far out there that they’ll never have a chance of achieving it, but don’t underestimate their capacity or desire to go beyond the obvious.

Have high expectations of your son or daughter and importantly of anyone who has influence over their vision.

It’s their life, help them make it a challenge, encourage and support them to take some risks; they might just surprise you with what they are capable of.

Keep the vision

Other than your son or daughter nobody is more invested in their life than you. If they can’t be the keeper of their own dreams they may need to rely on you or someone else they trust to help protect their vision.

Make this a conscious decision. We only get one shot at life, help ensure your son or daughter’s vision for their life is safeguarded.