My child is in (or will be) in Secondary 5

Their last year of high school is here! It’s usually a memorable year during which your adolescent will experience their fair share of emotions and have a lot of important decisions to make concerning their future in a short period of time. But rest assured, none of these decisions are irrevocable: our educational system permits changes and diverse pathways.

Remember that there is no such thing as the perfect choice! Young people must explore several pathways to truly discover themselves. While these experiences can be painful for parents, they are often enriching and beneficial for the child.

The year of big decisions! Prom, driver’s license, end of studies, the beginning of a new era! A lot of decisions to take and little time to think about them! If it has not been done yet, there is still time to consult a guidance counsellor, so students can better pursue their self-reflection and make choices according to who they are. Visit the Guidance for my child section for more information.

Some youth decide to take a break after high school to work and acquire experience in the job market. According to Statistics Canada, research in the United States suggests that interrupting their studies may hinder eventual completion of post-secondary studies, as many young people take time off simply do not return to school. On the other hand, young people who pause their studies to acquire work experience have an advantage when they arrive on the job market because this allows them to develop employability skills. To learn more, visit the Statistics Canada page.

What to do as a parent

While you may no longer have the power to decide for your child, you can still encourage them to establish a career project that corresponds to their interests and abilities.

By demonstrating a real interest in their future you are increasing the chances that they will be open to your suggestions and recommendations.

You can also consult a guidance counsellor or visit an employment agency such as a Carrefour jeunesse-emploi with them to discuss their goals and make enlightened choices regarding their future.

If your child officially decides to enter the job market, you should continue to encourage them. Some young people prefer this concrete type of life experience that offers them more independence. Who knows? They might want to return to school one day and you’ll be right there to support them in the next transition.

For most young people, starting cégep (or vocational training) is a chance to reaffirm their autonomy, and experience big changes and the widening of their social networks. The same way your child made the journey from elementary to high school, the transition from high school to college or vocational training is an important stage in their life.

While some students experience this transition without issue, others are worried and the journey becomes a source of great anxiety.

Freedom, at last?

Many students see their entry into cégep as a new life marked by certain new freedoms (reduced course hours, apartment living, more socializing), but the impression is misleading. Even if the class hours are less imposing, the hours of studying and homework are more numerous, and the schedules are more varied. Structure is also a lot less present and independence is valued and encouraged. Also, for some students, apartment living brings with it a slew of responsibilities that they did not expect, or at least did not plan for to any great extent (having roommates, chores, meal preparation, bills to pay, etc.). It is therefore important that they continue to have your support during this transition.

Some tips

  • Discuss what they think of the transition to post-secondary studies.
  • Visit the cégep with them and try to meet with student service representatives.
  • Inform your child about assistance services in all colleges.
  • Be on the lookout for changes in their behavior (loss of interest, laziness, absenteeism), and talk about it without judging (or punishing) while continuing to demonstrate openness.
  • Encourage casual discussions (e.g., in the car: they will feel less like they are being interrogated than in formal face-to-face discussions).
  • Even if you no longer have access to their school record, you can still stay informed about your child by showing sincere interest in their progress and study choices.
  • Remain open-minded about their chosen field of study: it often happens that it doesn’t really correspond to their interests and abilities. It is important and sometimes justified however, to reconsider their choice. A guidance counsellor and individual pedagogical assistance available at cégep can assist them.

Every youth evolves at their own rhythm, according to what they know about themselves and what they know about work and education. Some already have profound self-knowledge and a precise idea of what they want to do in the future, while others need more time for this process, and the decision can be made later. Don’t worry about it too much: Just follow your child’s pace while encouraging them with the help of the advice you find on this site.

Don’t worry about it too much. Just follow your child’s pace while encouraging them with the help of the advice you will find on this site.