Year 5 and 6 students are not too young to gain enormous benefits from being taken along to TAFE or university OPEN DAYS. They will learn so much about future courses and careers at these events while also having a lot of fun. Parents are also showing that they take a real interest in their children and their talents and interests. But how can parents help younger children gain the most from an OPEN DAY? How can they make sure it’s an exciting experience and not an overwhelming or boring one?
OPEN DAYS can be overwhelming even for secondary students unless they arrive well prepared. It’s even more important that parents of primary aged children know what to look for and how to make the most of a visit to a local university or TAFE institute. Here are some hints and strategies to make the visit a real success for younger children…
- Carefully check the website of the university or TAFE institute you decide to take your child to. You should be able to find an OPEN DAY calendar of events on websites.
- Check the website with your child. Explain that TAFE institutes and universities are exciting places where students can learn how to become pilots, scientists, astronauts, fashion designers, motor mechanics etc. Throw in some of the careers you believe would appeal to your child.
- With your child, decide on some of the career areas you will investigate at a particular OPEN DAY. Choose some of the workshops or displays you will visit together. Ask your child if there are any careers that interest him.
- Arrive early rather than later in the day because you can avoid long queues and big crowds.
- You can sometimes book a place online for some workshops, interactive displays and other exciting events. This means that you and your child won’t miss out.
- Some presentations will be exciting even for younger children as they will include great videos of the exciting work students undertake in particular courses. Other presentations may be too dry for younger children though. Sometimes institutions provide summaries of what will be included in various presentations. These will give you an idea of whether the presentation would appeal to a younger child.
- Look for ‘workshops’ and ‘interactive displays’ as these are generally really interesting and appealing to students of all ages. For example, students can see a simulation of the effect of an earthquake on a bridge or building as part of understanding the work students complete in Engineering or Architecture. Students can sometimes see Physiotherapy and other Health Science students working on ‘patients’ or demonstrating fascinating medical equipment. Science faculties often have fantastic displays that would appeal to younger students.
- If your child is interested in music, art, multimedia or computing, you will obviously look out for anything in these areas. There may be a Faculty of Music and a Faculty of Fine Arts but if you are unsure about where to find information about specific areas such as digital music, multimedia or games design, there will be student ambassadors and tertiary staff who can help you find what you are looking for.
- Visit various faculties to make sure you see displays of completed student work or work in progress. Institutions are trying to attract bright and interested students so they will be making a big effort to capture the attention of all visitors.
- Institutions often provide fun giveaways for students and pamphlets and booklets outlining various courses. Although the content may be too difficult for many primary aged students to read, pictures tell a thousand words. Parents can help younger children by reading the literature with them.
- Take your child on a tour around the grounds of the institution. Most have amazing facilities such as gyms, theatres, cafes, sports facilities and more. Even libraries can be exciting places to visit as they often contain displays of various artefacts.
- Explain that students who go to universities and TAFE institutes don’t have to wear uniforms and can choose from hundreds of exciting courses.
- Don’t just take your child to visit one institution. They are all different and well worth a visit. You never know what will catch the attention of your child and spark an interest in theatre, mathematics, surveying, sound engineering, nursing or music.
- Include a TAFE institute in the list of institutions to visit. Children need to learn that TAFE is a viable option. Sometimes teenagers have to consider a TAFE course if their ATAR does not allow them to go directly into a university course. Having a positive view of TAFE from a young age can greatly reduce stress and the stigma sometimes associated with TAFE studies. TAFE institutes also offer courses that are not available in any university setting. Don’t neglect the TAFE option.
The best news is…
A successful OPEN DAY visit for children can open their eyes to the great variety of courses and careers they can consider. It can also help children see that there is a point to going to primary and secondary school! OPEN DAYS can open the minds of young people to the many fantastic career possibilities they can consider.