Being a parent isn’t easy and the older my two get, the more I’m thinking about how I can best prepare them for the real world!
I’ve worked very hard to teach them both kids how to manage their own money and have always involved them in family financial decisions. They know how to plan meals and how to cook them which means that as far as budgeting and fending for themselves when they leave home, I think we’re pretty much covered and I’m pretty confident that they’ll be able to hold their own in the real world in these areas.
I’m very aware that the thing I can’t teach them myself is how to deal with meeting new people and how to learn to work with people they don’t know – they’re the skills that need to be learned by actually doing them out there in the real world.
I’ve tried my best to get them out there at various different clubs and activities because that felt like a great way to get them off to a good start but over the years I’ve come to accept that they’re not really organised activities kind of children. We’ve tried all sorts from trampolining to gymnastics and from martial arts to music but none of them has stuck.
Miss Frugal recently signed up to do her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and already I can see a change, she has to commit to volunteering, learning a new skill and some sort of fitness activity over a set period of time which means that she’s meeting new people all of the time and having to adapt to working with them. This alone is giving her more confidence and I can see that this next year of working towards achieving her award is going to do wonders for her.
Not all children have this opportunity though and even those who do would still benefit from that extra little push in the right direction which is why I wanted to tell you a little bit about the National Citizen Service (NCS) today. NCS is a government-backed programme which has been running since 2011 with the aim of working with young adults to build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society.
They have very similar beliefs to my own in as much that I firmly believe that if you give young people the right tools, opportunities, and respect they will change the world around them. I tell my children that they need to be the change they want to see in the world which basically means that if they want to see changes in our society then they need to do something about it and not just sit around waiting for someone else to do it.
NCS is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme, which takes place in school holidays, includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.
It sounds like something that has the potential to be pretty life-changing for some of our children and at the very least, it’s going to give them life skills that we, as their parent, may struggle to teach them ourselves.
So far, almost 400,000 young people have taken part in the program with more than 7million hours of community action being completed as part of this and during these uncertain times, I genuinely believe that giving our children the opportunity to experience something like this is a great thing to do for them and their future selves.
NCS is amazing value for money too so you don’t need to worry about not being able to afford it – the whole experience including food, accommodation and travel costs just £50 and there are even bursaries available on a case by case basis if you need that bit of extra support. There’s also support provided for young people with additional needs so it’s a very inclusive program.
So, if you’re a parent of a year 11 teenager, I strongly recommend looking into signing them up for this once in a lifetime experience this summer where they’ll have so much fun that they won’t even notice that they’re learning valuable life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.
This year, it’s expected that more than 100,000 teenagers from different backgrounds all over the UK will be brought together by the NCS program which is brilliant. Don’t let your teenager miss out though – you can register for information and even if you don’t yet know your plans for the Summer then you can work with NCS to get your teenager a spot on the program at a time that’s going to suit you and your family.
There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer so if you want to sign your teenager up, head over to the website right now.
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