Getting ready for university: Helping your child prepare

*This post is a collaboration with BBC TVL, but all thoughts and experiences are my own

Blink and you’ll miss it! That’s pretty much how fast childhood goes. One minute you’re cradling a baby in your arms, the next they’re getting ready for university! Heading off to university is one of the most exciting but nerve-wracking things you can do as a young person….I still remember it like it was only yesterday from my own experience. There is a lot to take in, and it’s a serious leap in independence, often being the first time a child moves away from home and the security of the family.

Helping them with adjustment

I remember when I went off to university I didn’t even know how to boil an egg! There was a lot to take in and adjust to – making new friends, figuring out life in halls, budgeting, how to be able to feed yourself with something more than just a Pot Noodle, how not to live in total squalor, and everything else in between.

In the next decade, my daughter will be setting off on her own journey, and getting ready for university – I know it’s going to come round quick as a flash. It’s a lot to think about, so when BBC TVL got in touch to let me know about their Family Quiz Campaign – a test you can do to test your children’s readiness for student life.

I thought this would be a great introduction to the things that she would have to think about further down the line when the time for this huge step change comes. They also have a really useful getting ready for uni checklist to help you get prepped!

Things to think about

The test includes questions about a variety of challenges they might face in getting ready for university and I was actually pleasantly surprised by my daughter’s answers. Thank goodness I won’t have to worry about her languishing in scuzzy bedsheets that haven’t been changed in eons, missing all her lectures, forgetting to buy her TV license so she is covered for watching her favourite shows (cue Strictly Fever!!). Or blowing her food budget for the month before the first week is out, never calling home, and leaving her mum dreaming up all sorts of crazy thoughts about fresher’s week carnage because she gave some quite sensible answers!

It seems that I have actually raised quite a sensible human with a few life skills under her belt at least as she seems to be more aligned with the realities of student life than I could have ever given her credit for (young people these days are way savvier than we were when we went off to uni eh?).

A little snapshot here of how the quiz went for us, starting with round one

Me: How often do you think your should change your bed sheets (me praying she wouldn’t say once a month…or worse still never!).

E: Once a week (the girl came good)!

Me: How do you find out when bin day is?

E: Um, look outside and see if the bins are out (she notices my quizzical face and then updates her answer quickly). Look on the borough website? (Second time lucky!).

In round two, I had to correctly guess three of her answers…it was a little bit more hit and miss!

Me: How many times will a week will you call home: My guess, a skeptical once a week.

E: Every 1.5 days (I am not sure how the half will be factored in though but good answer and much more generous than I expected….we’ll see what really happens when the time comes!).

Me: What clubs/societies will you join in Fresher’s Week: My guess – anything to do with music and dance.

E: Anything to do with music and dance (score!).

Me: What is your best stress busting tip (my guess, punch a cushion)!

E: Hug a dog (awwwwww).

The importance of communication

As with all things in parenting, keeping the lines of communication is key, and that couldn’t be any more important when getting ready for university. I am a big advocate of not leaving things to the last minute, and having conversations about big milestones well in advance of them happening to normalise them and ensure that your child feels as secure as possible about them – and that includes getting ready for university.

It’s important to be there for our children during this huge transition and always keep an open and supportive channel for any big steps ahead of them in life so they know that you are there to listen to and support them. If this isn’t something you already do, then something like getting ready for university is the perfect catalyst. You could also help them by creating or reviewing an already existing checklist (like BBC TVL’s one mentioned above) which they can calmly work their way through to ensure they are all organised.

Teaching life skills

If your children are not quite at the “getting ready for university” stage, then you can lay down the foundations for readiness early by helping them to practice key lives skills they’ll need by encouraging them to become more independent by teaching them how to cook a variety of dishes, how to put a laundry load on, how to set and live off a budget – that kind of thing. If going to university is imminent then make sure you cram these in as quickly as possible!

Do you have a child currently getting ready for university? Or if this is a while off for you yet, how will ensure they are as ready as they can be when the tie comes? Let us know your thoughts in a comment below.

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