5 things to keep in mind when picking your child's highschool stream

Your child is stepping into the most important phase of their lives: high school, a lot of the decisions made at this point in time will have a bearing on the future. So, making the right decision when it comes to picking the right stream for high school matters more than anything else. You are naturally worried about the decision your child may face, and what to help them and support them while making decisions.

In India, a student may opt for any of the curricula offered by the individual state syllabus, the CBSE, ICSE, IB, IGCSE and ISC, among others. Each of these may offer different syllabi and options. Parents and students may have to decide on the combination of subjects on offer and the choice of language. Once students complete their class 8, 9 and 10, they will have the next set of options in front of them: which stream to pick for their 11th and 12th -- the arts, science or commerce.

So, how do you help your child pick the right highschool stream?

1. Stay aware of the streams and what they imply

As parents, it is important to understand what each stream implies. What does an education in the arts imply? Which language should the child pick and why? What does it mean to pick commerce or science subjects? The courses available in each stream for the future, the level of difficulty, the career options for them, and the nature of the subject itself should first be understood. You should look up online or seek help from teachers/subject experts or counsellors if you wish to, and get an understanding of what the syllabus in each of these streams contains.

2. Equip yourself with practical, actionable information

It is all fine to say you will let your child do whatever they want to but to be of real help and pick the right stream, whether it is the arts/humanities, science or commerce/business administration, professional courses or performing arts, you should have all the ready information handy. Go online, look for course details, whether in India or abroad, have university details handy, look at accommodation, culture of a place, for example. Also, have adequate information and ready links to websites, online primers on a specific stream and other reading material handy for your child to pick the right stream. A few testimonials from students, write-ups by university professors and alumni who are working in the relevant fields will help immensely to shape your child’s decisions in high school. It is always better to make an informed choice than to rush in blindly.

3. Discuss with children and understand their aptitude

As a parent, you want only the best for your child. You want your teenager to be a NASA scientist but what if she has no aptitude for science? What if your child is passionate about music? So, while picking a stream for your child’s 11th, it is important to understand that both you and your children are aware of what their aptitude is. It is only after taking into account the child’s passion, capacity, aptitude and goals for the future that you should make a decision. Help your kid come up with a stream on the basis of where their real interests lie.

4. Help your child stay away from peer pressure

High school is a time when both parents and children are under severe stress. For students, it is the peer group, social media, celebrities or heroes who often act as influencers. For parents, it is their peer group, neighbours, and relatives. It is important for you as a parent not to allow your child to fall for this pressure, and stay away from such pressure yourself. Think hard about what your child’s motivation is behind picking a specific subject. Is it because your kid’s best friend is taking up a certain stream that she wants to study it too? Or is it because she genuinely wants to? Also, teenage is a time when kids want to be perceived as ‘cool’ and stay popular. Sit with your child and discuss their motivation.

5. Look beyond gender stereotypes

In India, there are still certain careers that are considered a woman’s domain, and certain professions are a male domain. You should see beyond these stereotypes, and help your child pick the stream they want on the basis of their interests and passions. So, if your boy wants to study home science, and is genuinely interested, he should be encouraged to. Allow him to think and pick a stream on the basis of his passion and not on the basis of stereotypes. If your boy wants to pick humanities because he is deeply interested, he should pick that highschool stream and shape his career in it.

Summing up

Picking the right stream during high school can be the first step in helping your kid build a career of their choice. If you want to help your child, you may first have to keep yourself armed with all the important information, understand and discuss your child’s true interests, goals and motivation levels. You could also seek out a counsellor to help both yourself and your child to make informed decisions.

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Mangesh Sawant

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