Tonight we reach another milestone in our parenting timeline – our eldest is going to her GCSE options evening. Of course nothing is decided tonight but there will be some pressure on her for sure – not least from teachers of the outlying subjects trying to get her to “pick them”.
I say “outlying” and what I mean is those subject where she actually has a choice. Of course English (literature and language), maths and science are a given but from there she has some choices to make. There’s real pressure on kids nowadays when it comes to these choices, far more than I can remember as a spotty 14 year old tasked with making his choices.
I feel for her, I do really. Because I simply don’t agree with the pressure put on our youngsters at school nowadays. Pressure to know the path you want to take, I mean she’s 14 for crying out loud. This was me at about her age – do I look like I know what I want to do? Nah, I didn’t. I went from Army, to physiotherapist,to fire fighter, to RAF, to architect to professional footballer all on a daily basis. But her younger sister, who is 13 and a year below her, also takes her options this year as the GCSE course changes from two years to three. Wow! So now we’re asking 12/13 years old children to make choices like this as well? Oh, okay then!
Our advice to her has always been to pick the subjects she enjoys. There is little point picking a subject that you think might be useful in the future you are looking at now but struggling through two years not enjoying it. I am living proof of how futures change. I left school with okay GCSEs and went to work at a chemical company in the labs for four years – then switched to IT for the next 18 (still in IT now). In the intervening years I have also been a photographer and now as a blogger I also love writing and maybe in my future this will play a bigger part. Who knows?
We won’t funnel her down any particular route at all. We will support her and listen to her and help guide her, but crucially the decision on what she chooses has to be hers.
I’m sure this blog will chronicle our passage through support our four girls through their GCSEs in the coming years – it could be a roller coaster!
Let me know what you think. Have you got a teenager heading into GCSEs soon?
Thanks for reading.