Career choices: How to help your child make their subject selections in Grade 9

3 min read   •   June 27, 2019

This time of the year Grade 9 learners need to make their subject selections for next year, but parents often do not know how to guide them. Educational psychologist, Lizette Erasmus, shares some insightful guidelines on subject selections and how they will guide your child’s career choices in South Africa.

What motivates your child?

Take note of those things and activities that excites and energises your child and draw your child’s attention to it.

I want to share with you the following true story. There was once a girl who really loved to write stories, but when she got her essays back, she was very disappointed to find that instead of an “E” for excellent, she received a “U” for unsatisfactory. Despite her disappointment, she did not give up on her passion. Today, Mary Ellen Klee is a successful writer who has contributed to the book Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.

Does your child know herself? (Self-knowledge)

Every career requires a certain aptitude, interest and personality type. In order to make the right career choice, your child needs to know themselves. Self-knowledge means that your child has a realistic view of their strengths and weaknesses.

Parents often expect their children to be one thing when in fact they are another. Therefore, a child that is naturally impractical and who struggles with mathematics and science will not believe that they will become a good scientist one day. Children can consult a professional from Grade 9 onwards for career counselling as this will assist them in evaluating their aptitude. The professional may ask your child to complete a career choice quiz or aptitude test and to compile a career choice list as this can help them choose the subjects best suited to them. This is also an objective way to achieve self-knowledge.

Interest is usually a prerequisite to make a responsible career choice. Parents should encourage their children to be curious about different kinds of careers. Children also need to take the responsibility to read about what a specific career entails and do some job shadowing. Parents and children should also discuss the reasons why they are interested in a specific career. Most often the only motivator is to earn a lot of money. Albert Schweitzer said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful”.

Personality plays a vital role in our thinking and decision-making. Some people like doing a variety of different things each day while others prefer focusing on single tasks and limiting their contact with other people. Doing a job that fits your personality will guarantee success. Marc Anthony said: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.

The school subjects your child selects should thus fit their aptitude, interest and personality. To read more about career choices in high school, click here.