Why you should let your child take a gap year

Posted on 21 October 2019

Approaching the end of matric can be a daunting time for an 18-year-old. With finals looming and an indecision regarding ‘what next?’, the pressure can take a toll. A gap year should be an option for those finishing school, as travelling the world is an invaluable experience.

Many parents of young adults hit a point in time where they need to help and advise their children on their future. For many, this is an easy process.

Their children know what they are interested in, they know what they want to study and know what career they want to go into. But for others, this is not an easy process.

It is one filled with stress and pressure for both the parents and the children. In this case, a gap year may be something to look into. Rudi Viljoen, the founder of the Warriors Academy which specialises in gap year programs, sheds some light on the benefits of a gap year and what you should look out for when looking at a gap year for your child.

What is a gap year?
A gap year is a time-out from studies or a career, taken by a student after school or studies. It can be many things for different people, but ultimately it is an investment in a person’s future.

A well-structured gap year program is an opportunity for a person to learn more about themselves, to gain confidence, step out of their comfort zone and ultimately help them find their path, both personally and professionally.

What are the benefits of taking a gap year?
The real benefit of a structured gap year is the development of a student’s emotional maturity and their ability to adapt and deal with challenges. At Warriors Academy, the primary focus is on helping students develop their mental and emotional strength to cope with their studies, future career and life in general. The aim is to help students take responsibility for their thoughts and actions in the hope of helping them to achieve their dreams.

What should you look for in a gap year program?
When choosing a gap year program for your child, do your research. Look for a program that is structured with a balance of activities, travel and personal coaching. It is essential to look for a program that is accredited. This will give you peace of mind, knowing your child is on a program that has been assessed, approved and is being governed by a set of standards. The Warriors Academy program is accredited by the International Gap Year Association.

The Academy has had over 400 students come through the program over the past 16 years. The program specifically focuses on experiential learning through adventure activities as well as personal mentoring and coaching. The activities range from animal encounters, kloofing, mountain biking, water rafting, bungee jumping, courses on self-care, entrepreneurship, how to build your personal brand, and so much more. What really makes a program is the team running it. The Warriors team is made up of several specialists in their field who are passionate about helping students find their way. Their knowledge and experience help to guide students and enables personal development.

“Our focus throughout the program is on building our students emotional fitness. This involves building their self-esteem, taking them out of their comfort zone and challenging them to be the best that they can be. To do this effectively, you need to provide students with a safe, free and loving environment, which is what we focus on. The results are incredible. At the end of each year, I sit at graduation, look around and cannot believe how incredible the growth has been in the students. To have both parents and students come up to us at the end of the year and thank us for changing their lives, is why we do what we do,” concludes Viljoen.

So, if you are a parent who is in a situation where your child is not sure what they want to do, consider a gap year program. It is always better to take a little extra time to decide, rather than going to study something that they might not enjoy and then have to start over. It might be the best thing you have ever done for them.


Image: Unsplash

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