School Holidays – The Perfect Time for Our Children to Find Their Passion

School Holidays – The Perfect Time for Our Children to Find Their Passion

by Keynote Editor

Hold on a minute – Before you sign your sons and daughters up for those extra preparatory tuition classes for the holidays, read the rest of this article. Yes, it would be good to get a “head-start”, and no, they shouldn’t be lazing around for the next two months before school begins. But there are several things we can encourage our children to do (that doesn’t involve the textbooks he will eventually read) that will help prepare them for the future. Specifically, it is to help them find their passions.

Why Should They Find Their Passion Now?

A heavy choice awaits our children when they reach the end of Secondary 4. If they choose to go to Junior College, they’ve still got a few years to ponder about the type of career path they intend to pursue through the degree they’ll be choosing in university. If polytechnic is the preferred choice, depending on the diploma, it could make a huge difference in terms of the industry they find themselves working in down the road – and that’s a big decision to make when you’re 16 years old.

The result of which is that many university graduates end of up with degrees or diplomas that have no relation to what they are currently working as. A graduate named only as Mr Tang, spoke to Channel News Asia last year about how he had been working at an admin support position for 18 months, despite graduating with a degree in chemistry.

And because of such instances, career switches happen rather frequently. A report in 2015 stated that 67% of Singaporeans were looking to leave their current roles in the workforce due to lack of career progression, interest, and unsatisfactory pay.

Truth it, many of us have worked in jobs that we do not like, and some of us are still in them because we have to provide for the family. The holy grail is to find a job that we both love and can pay the bills with. Those who get a true head-start are those who find their passion early in life.

In order to give our children the best chance at attaining this, they have to figure out what they love and how to make a living doing it. Fortunately, us parents can help them do so, by allowing them to explore the professions available across the spectrum at an early age.

Here are some of the things we encourage your child does during the holidays:

1. Attend Various Special-Interest Courses

Before you enrol them into random piano, swimming or art classes, have a chat with your children to understand what kind of activities they might be interested in, and indicate that you’d like to have them attend a course of their choice. Allow them to make the first suggestions. If they have no preference however, suggest a few activities and see which one they lean the most towards do.

By participating in different activities, our children will get an inkling of the type of thing that suits their personality. Try not to limit them to stereotypes too! Perhaps the usually reserved girl comes alive during volleyball, and the talkative, outgoing boy may find his true voice in creative writing. The point is to allow them a taste of something other than their studies that they may have the opportunity to indulge in.

We’ve listed a couple of activities that you may want to introduce to your child, just for starters:

Sports: Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Hockey, Athletics, Golf, Swimming, Netball, Tennis
Performance Arts: Contemporary Dance, Ballet, Choir, Drama & Theatre
Musical Instruments: Guitar, Ukulele, Drums, Flute, Piano, Trumpet, Violin
Others: Creative Writing, Arts & Crafts, Language Courses, Robotics, Coding, Cooking & Baking

2. Watch a Wide Range of Documentaries

There are documentaries/shows online that let you get an insight into the day-in-day-outs of specific jobs. The YouTube channel StudentEdge has a careers section in which they talk to people of various jobs to find out what it really is like as a lawyer, journalist, fashion designer and chef just to name a few. Below are just some videos your child can watch to gain a better understanding of different professions.

A. Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands (Doctor)
B. How to get a Job at Vouge with Alexa Chung | Full Documentary (Fashion Editor/Designer)
C. A Day in the Life of a Firefighter / Firefighting: A Life of Its Own (Firemen)
D. The Making of a Young Entrepreneur / An Entrepreneur’s Life: Gary Vaynerchuk (Entrepreneur)
E. Being Kobe Bryant: Basketball Documentary (Pro Athlete)

Of course, they shouldn’t limit themselves to watching documentaries. If they are really keen on a specific industry, you may even encourage them to find out more by borrowing books from a nearby library that can offer them advice in detail. There are much more resources than you think.
They don’t have to just consume job-related content either. Shows on the channels like the Discovery Channel about astronomy, botanists, quantum physics, cars, extreme engineering, and even wonders of the earth can pique their interest and help shape their understanding of the world away from the textbook.

3. Work Part Time

Students who are above the age of 13 are allowed to work on a part time basis in Singapore. At present, the F&B sector is one of the most receptive to hiring students for work experience – with some searching, they should be able to find jobs as waiters/waitresses, cashiers or kitchen crew that pay about $6 to $10 an hour.

Taking that first step into the work industry can be both beneficial and eye-opening. It gives our children the chance to see how a business is run from an employee’s perspective, hone their social and communication skills, as well as the exposure to meet people from all walks of life that they wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to in school.

Above all, it’s an opportunity for them to discover what it is about the working environment that they like or dislike at a young age, which can help them make better decisions when searching for a job in the years ahead. Also, encourage them not to work at the same job for too long, different jobs offer different perspectives. If they’ve worked as a waiter in the first job, try applying to work at a retail store, or as an event helper next.

Job apps like FastJobs and websites like Parttimejobs.sg can make your child’s search for a part-time job relatively simple.

4. Meet Actual Industry Practitioners

While documentaries and books can give you some sort of understanding, there’s nothing like talking to an actual practitioner who can answer your specific questions. If you have friends who work in various industries, it would be helpful for your child to have a chat with them, perhaps even be shown around the workplace or sitting in during meetings (if possible) to gain the experience of the work first hand.

Their Passion Can Help Them with Admissions Too

The MOE’s Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) allows students to apply and receive conditional offers for polytechnic diploma programmes based on their aptitudes and interests. About 3,680 secondary school students were already offered a place in the polytechnic course of their choice even before they took their ‘O’ Levels this year (2016).

They were interviewed and assessed based on their level of passion, and whether or not they possess the attitude and skills required to perform well in the course they’ve applied for. It is but one of several government efforts that emphasize the importance of holistic-driven education for Singaporeans, in place of the prevalent result-driven culture our children are growing up in.

Putting that passion into work early in life will no doubt help them with admission exercises such as this. For example, if two students with interest in an aerospace engineering course apply for it, which of the two do you think will gain entry into the course?

Student A: Expresses interest by saying that he wishes to be a pilot in the future by following in his father’s footsteps.

Student B: Shows his passion for the aerospace industry by joining the NCC Air team in secondary school, showing evidence of attending aerospace seminars and events, and talking about how he wishes to a part of that industry by citing what he loves specifically about his future job.

Chances are, you’d pick student B too, because he has put his passion in action and showed clearly that he would do well in the course because of his enthusiasm for aerospace.

So, this school holidays, allow your children the freedom to explore their interests by attending courses, viewing documentaries and perhaps working part time if he is of age. A true head start for the future of our children doesn’t lie simply in academics, but in their passions in life as well.

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