If you are a pregnant teenager still at school, especially if you plan to keep your baby and return to school after the birth – you need to read this.
DOWNLOAD THE WESTERN CAPE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT’S POLICY DOCUMENTS:
Teen moms need to make completing their education a priority. Leaving school without Matric will make it much harder to find a good job to provide for your family. The longer you put it off, the harder it becomes to go back and finish.
WHY DON’T SOME TEEN MOMS FINISH SCHOOL?
- Money: school fees, books, travel and uniforms are expensive and money is always tight when there’s a new baby. Day to day survival becomes more important.
- Childcare: many moms don’t have decent, reliable childcare options available to them. They have no choice but to stay home to look after baby
- Attitudes of peers / teachers / community – sometimes teens don’t want to return to the same school as before. They might be afraid of judgement or discrimination by those around them.
- Not fitting in: teen moms have new priorities and many have a new outlook on life after having a child. They may not fit in with their peers anymore, having much more “adult” concerns and the adjustment back to being treated as a “child” at school can be very difficult
- “I’ll go back later”: if a mom doesn’t make a concrete plan for returning to school while still pregnant, when things change after baby come it’s very easy to put it off for later, when “the time is right”. Weeks turn into months and years and the timing is never “just right”.
- Family: some families may believe that a teen girl has “lost her chance” for education once she has a child and not being allowed to return to school is somehow “punishment”
PLAN WHILE YOU’RE STILL PREGNANT
Before baby is born, you need to know exactly what will happen afterwards.
Speak to your school, your family and baby’s father to come up with a plan that works. You will need to consider all the points above- money, time, childcare and the emotional stuff.
Pregnant or parenting learners may not be expelled from school or prevented from returning after the birth. The policy documents above apply to the Western Cape – make sure you understand the policies of YOUR province and school. We will update this website with policies from other provinces as we get them.
YOU WILL NEED ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET
It’s tempting to hide the pregnancy from the school but in the long run it’s better to have them on your side. Schools can, and SHOULD, help you with finding ways to continue as long as possible, to keep up with work missed while you’re off after the birth and to ease the transition when you return. You need to know your rights and also your responsibilities – the school may be required to assist you but it’s up to you to do the work.
However you do it, completing Matric (at least) MUST be a priority for both you and your family. Use the time during your pregnancy to investigate options. Try and stay at school for as long as possible while still pregnant. Even after you have left school, find ways to keep up with the work and READ, READ READ as much as you can. This way, catching up when you do return will be a bit easier.
THINK ABOUT THIS:
- It will be hard work. Studying while pregnant and especially with a young baby is exhausting. You will have to learn to manage your time well and get enough rest. It will be difficult to find the time to study and look after baby, especially if you have many other household responsibilities too.There might be some days when you feel you can’t cope. When those hard days come, remind yourself why you’re doing it: you’re building a better life and future for both you and your baby.
- You will need to be hard on yourself. You WILL be tired, you WILL be busy. There will be a million distractions. Self-discipline and a good studying routine is even more important for you than for any “normal” student.
- Being pregnant at school or as a mother can be hard. You might not relate to your friends anymore. You might not be treated well by others and it can be hurtful. You might feel lonely. Those are all normal feelings, which you can handle if you – again – remind yourself of why you’re doing it.
- If being around your school friends makes you feel resentful, like you’re missing on your teenage years – you need to rethink your decision to be a mom. Resentment and anger means you can’t be a good mother for your child. Think VERY HARD about your choices.
- Consider going to a new school afterwards if you want a new start, but remember that it won’t necessarily be better.
- Colleges, homeschooling or correspondence learning might be options – but they are expensive and might not be practical.
- You will need help from friends and family – practical, financial and emotional support. Ask them to keep encouraging you when it gets hard.
- Every day you stay at school is a day closer to that healthy, happy, safe future for you and your baby.
- Every test and exam you pass is a sign of your love and commitment to creating a good future for your child.
- Don’t let anybody distract you from your educational goal or tell you it’s not important.
- Thousands of young moms around the world have done it – and you can too.