Helping your child with planning their choice of school subjects at secondary school.

Things may have changed since you were at school, but that’s no reason to feel out of your depth when trying to help your child make choices about their school subjects. Young people depend on their parents for guidance more than you might think, so be assured that you can still offer good advice and encouragement.

Here are some things to remember when helping your child decide what school subjects to take.

Think about their abilities and interests

Talk to your child about how the choices they make about their school subjects will affect their future training or career options. Finding the right career starts with knowing what they like doing and what they’re good at:

• Which subjects do they enjoy? Which don’t they enjoy?

• Outside school, what gives them the most joy? Being with people? Playing sport?

• Which subjects are they good at? Or not so good at?

• What about outside of school? Are they good with people? Clever at fixing things?

Use these interactive tools to help them connect their skills, interests and favourite subjects to career options:

Skill Matcher – match your best skills to job ideas

Subject Matcher – match subjects you enjoy to job ideas

Jobs by Interest – discover jobs that match your interests

Be aware of all their options at school

Each school is likely to offer different subject options. Availability of some options may depend on the school timetable, and certain subjects, such as maths and English, may be compulsory. Being aware of all the options available to your child is a good starting point. Talk to their dean, teachers or careers adviser to find out more.

Plan ahead with prerequisites

Some senior subjects have prerequisites – for example, maths is a prerequisite for studying calculus or statistics later. Make sure you and your child know about these and plan ahead for the subjects they might want to take in Year 12 or 13.

If your child is considering tertiary study or training, it’s a good idea to check out the minimum subject requirements of some courses. For example, a design course may require that a portfolio of work be supported by study in subjects such as graphics or visual arts at secondary school.

Keep their options open

Remind your child that it’s normal for interests and abilities to change over time, and that many people do change their minds and switch careers even after their first or second jobs.

Support your child’s career dream but remind them to keep other options open just in case they change their mind or things work out differently.

Encourage them to choose a wide range of subjects to study at school so they can find out what they really enjoy and keep their options open.

Be there for them

This is a stage in your child’s life when they are eager to be independent. Encourage them to take ownership of their decisions, but let them know that you are there to guide them.

For more information about career and education planning for secondary school students, and how to help as parents and families, go to Career Services NZ –



0 0 votes
Article Rating

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x