Part of the journey of secondary school is helping your child learn make choices for themselves, and find their own path in life.
Support your child’s voice
When children are little, their parents or carers make most decisions for them, including about school. Although it’s important to listen to children of any age, as Aunty Faye says – especially if they’re having a hard time.
“You’ve got to listen to your child, because him and the teacher might clash. Listen to your child – that’s most important.” – Aunty Faye
Your child might need help to communicate their ideas or feelings. They might learn Auslan or simpler signs. They might use a communication aid or device. Even children who can’t do those things can still get a message across.
As children grow up, they often want more of a say in things that affect them.
“At primary school, the parents and the teacher can see where his weaknesses are. But at high school, it’s good to involve the child. Because then you put the responsibility back on them, by asking, ‘What do you think you’re good at? What do you think you need help with? Not – what are you bad at? But, ‘What do you need help with?’” – Suzanna
Let them set their own goals
As your child grows up, you can get them more involved in planning their education journey. They could come along to their Student Support Group meetings. Or you can talk to them about the goals they want to achieve, and the help they will need to get there.
As Suzanna says, if a child or young person can set their own goals, they feel more motivated to work on them.
“We have meetings where we specifically work on goals for that term. And what strategy we’re going to put in place. But my son is asked, ‘What would you like to achieve this term?’ It’s not something that we put in place. Because with his cooperation, we know what he’s passionate about. Then we work with him, for him to achieve that goal. And it works good. It really works.” – Suzanna
Follow their passions
There are many different ways of learning. Sometimes, one way of learning might not work for your child, and another way might work better. Many children can learn well through doing an activity they enjoy, or learning about a subject they are very interested in.
For Suzanna and Rodney’s son, this was always playing music. Music helped teach their son to speak, to get along with others, and even to do maths.
You know your child. Whatever the child is interested in, work through that. My son is interested in music. So through music we taught him maths, social skills. Because for him to play a song, he needs to talk to the other musicians, to get results.” – Suzanna
Rodney and Suzanna’s son is in year 10. This is what he says about his goals in life, and for the next year or two:
“I want to go to TAFE, fix and make up an instrument. And also be in a band. And be in a relationship – get married. And spend my life looking after my family in the future.
Later this year, I’m going to get my Ls, and when I’m 18, I’m going to get my Ps, get two cars. And also travel with our band, performing at places around Australia and all that.” – Rodney and Suzanna’s son
Support their self-determination
By involving your child in choices about their education journey, you help them learn the skills for self-determination. It’s about helping your child work out where they want to go, and to speak up about what they need to travel that path. And as Suzanna says, praise them, even if they don’t succeed, and help them learn to keep at it.