It’s the time of year where our Junior Cert students have to decide whether they wish to continue straight into Leaving Cert preparation and choose those all important subjects, or take that year ‘out’ and do Transition Year. I use the term ‘Year out’ loosely. It’s the attitude I had prior to my youngest son doing TY.

Having two older sons through the school system and neither entertaining the option of Transition Year, I was ignorant of what exactly it entailed. And yes, admittedly I was not in any way favourable towards it. I saw it as an ‘easy option’ and a ‘lazy year’. There’s no denying the ignorance I really held towards it. I’m continually preaching ‘never judge a book by its cover’ and yet here I was judging TY for many years.

It wasn’t until son no. 3 asked me to go to the meeting at Moville Community College during his 3rd year . Initially I was reluctant but he convinced me that it was something he wanted to consider. I had always said I’d support the boys  in their education decisions, so this was one with which I had to just, ‘go with the flow’. That meeting however completely changed my attitude towards TY. My son had already made up his mind that he wanted to do it (he hadn’t quite told me this) but I also knew after this meeting that the year would be of great benefit to him.

On that night I watched as young people from the existing TY year got up and spoke about how the year helped them grow in confidence ( I was sold immediately). Growing in confidence is one of the most important attributes we can assist in instilling in our young people. TY clearly was doing this in many. There was to be many excursions away from home. Again, this allows young folk to grow in independence and become a little self-sufficient – all life skills which they don’t get taught in the classroom. There were many other plans, but I was already sold.

And so the decision was made. On our way home that night, my son said he really wanted to do TY. I supported him completely. Having completed Junior Cert later that year, TY commenced.

Throughout the year, he did go away on a number of excursions. He did a number of work-placement experiences. He assisted in running a small-business with his peers during that year. And he also continued with his core subjects ‘English, Irish and Maths’ alongside other subjects too. So much went on in this year, and yes there was little homework – that I was very in favour with.

At the end of TY, the same young man had indeed grown in confidence. He became more focused towards preparing for his Leaving Cert. He choose his subjects wisely and discussed a lot with his teachers and myself. He became a more rounded individual in every way.

TY is NOT for everyone. But I have completely changed MY attitude towards it. It’s a year to grow in so many ways and it just works. Don’t rule out TY because of it being a ‘lazy year’, a ‘year out’. It’s everything but.

Academic life is so very important if it’s for you. It’s not for everyone. TY allows young people the opportunity to experience other aspects of life. And it’s these aspects of life which will help in years to come.