10 Ways You Can Help Your Child Choose The Right Stream

Give your child the freedom to select his own career path even if it is a non-traditional one. Here's how you can go about deciding which stream is the best for your child.

By Aruna Raghuram

10 Ways You Can Help Your Child Choose The Right Stream

As the class X exams approach, children and parents are beset with anxiety. The anxiety is not just about performing well in the exam. It is also about making the important choice of selecting the right stream to pursue in class XI – science, commerce or arts/humanities. This choice will determine the career path for your child. It will open the doors to several careers, but might also close the doors to others.

The pressure a child feels is because of his own aims and ambitions as well as expectations of his family. Then there is always peer influence. Many children choose a stream based on their parents’ wishes or pursue a course their friends have opted for. Instead, they should consider what they can and want to do.

Does your child have the aptitude and the interest?

Two major factors that have to be kept in a mind while choosing a stream are – a child’s aptitude and his personal interests. Sometimes, a child’s aptitude is not clear. In that case, he should take an aptitude test. It will assess whether his strength lies in, say, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, mechanical reasoning or spatial relations.

But, just having the aptitude is not enough. A child should be interested in the subjects in a stream. For instance, a child who enjoys reading science fiction may find science fascinating. Again, a child who is creative and enjoys writing may be more at home with humanities, while a child who has a head for business and finance may find the commerce stream more suitable.

There could also be a situation where a child might dream of pursuing a particular career because of his interest but may not have the aptitude for it. Or, he might have the aptitude for one stream but be interested in the subjects of another. So, interest without aptitude or aptitude without interest are both pointless.

Streams and the career options

Each stream, whether it's science, commerce or the humanities, has a variety of career options. Following are the choices each stream offers:

Science: If your child selects the science stream, the two traditional options are medicine and engineering. For the latter, there are several branches she can select from. In addition to these two fields, there are many other careers she can go for – computer science and information technology (IT), electronics, pharmacy, dental science, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, astronomy, space exploration, biotechnology, architecture, metallurgy, agriculture, dairy technology, forensic science, environmental science, geology, home science, sports science, physiotherapy, nursing, alternative medicine, food technology and processing, and others.

The major advantage that science students have over non-science students is that they are eligible for science as well as non-science options. This is not the case for students from commerce and humanities streams. This is the reason many parents urge their children to opt for science as it gives them many more choices. However, they should first ensure that their child has the interest and capability to handle science subjects.

Commerce: If your child chooses the commerce stream, he can choose fields related to business, banking, trade, commerce, finance and accounting. Some of the popular graduate courses are BBA, B.Com, BMS, CA and BBM. Your child could aspire to become a chartered accountant, management professional, company secretary, financial analyst or planner, banker, economist, statistician, stock broker, insurance expert, tax consultant or auditor.

Humanities: If she opts to study the humanities, your child can become a historian, economist, psychologist, teacher, linguist, anthropologist, writer or musician. She can pursue law, the administrative services, general management, communication and media, design, tourism, hospitality management, library science, social work or film studies.

How parents can help children choose the right stream

Following are some ways you can guide your child in the right direction:

  1. Help your child discover his strengths and interests. Listen to him intently when he describes his likes and dislikes.
  2. Encourage your child to take up summer internships, and get feedback from her peers, friends, and mentors to enable her to figure out what she is good at.
  3. If it is not clear where your child’s aptitude lies, he should take an aptitude test conducted by a trained psychologist.
  4. Take your child to a career guidance counsellor. Professional advice is valuable in helping her gain clarity about what she wants to do in life. Career counsellors can help her plan her career depending on her interests.
  5. Take your child to education fairs to broaden his horizons and help him make a better decision. At such fairs, he can interact with officials from different universities and find out not just about the courses offered, but the eligibility factors too.
  6. You and your child should do adequate research on the Internet about various career options in the three streams.
  7. Don’t try to realise your dreams through your child. Also, it is not fair to have unrealistic expectations from her that she can’t fulfil.
  8. Don’t make the decision based solely on your child’s academic performance. He might not perform too well academically but may have certain specific skills that will enable him to excel in a non-academic field.
  9. Don’t only focus on what you think is an economically viable career. Be open to other options.
  10. Do not reject offbeat career choices. Be open-minded. Give your child the freedom to select his own career path even if it is a non-traditional one.

The choice of the stream to pursue in class XI is a significant decision for a child to make. He needs parental guidance and support. Gone are the days when the science stream was considered to offer the brightest career options. Today, there are diverse fields to be explored after class XII and myriad career opportunities in all three streams. If you keep his interests and abilities at the forefront while deciding, your child will be able to have a bright and satisfying professional life. 

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