Wednesday, March 17

Choosing a Well-Rounded Education for the Undecided {GIVEAWAY!}

Do you have a student like mine? I have a 15 year old who other than "finding a way to be helpful to others" has no clue about what he wants to do for a living. I can't say I'm terribly surprised when I was in high school the idea of what to do after high school was totally beyond me as well! Therefore it's important to make sure he has options for whatever career path he wants to follow. How does one manage a well-rounded education for such students? 

It's a very common thing you know.  For high school students to really not be clear about what work path they want to take. It's very okay for them not to know as well.  After all, most people change jobs, or career paths, five times over the course of their lives. 

 You need to think about your students in four different areas. Strengths, weaknesses, family pathways, and explorations.

Consider their strengths

It's as a good a place to start as any, isn't it?  Think about the things your student is good at. 
  •  Are they natural teachers? 
  •  Good at sports? 
  •  Drawn to computer programming? 
  •  Did they tear things apart as a child?  
Think about do they do in their spare time or even the things they talk about.  What draws their curiosity and how do they address that interest?   

These are the interests you want to feed, encouraging them to develop skills that they'll need in that area.   

For instance, friends of mine had a boy with a huge skill in hockey.  He had no idea of anything else he wanted to do.  So his parents fed that interest. His summers were filled doing hockey camps and his school year playing hockey for a couple different teams.  He's now playing professional hockey.   His drive to play hockey didn't diminish over time but simply increased. 

Consider their weaknesses 

All things being equal, where there are strengths there are also weaknesses.  Some weaknesses can be overcome, and sometimes they just show an area that perhaps shouldn't be pursued.  :)    

Imagine you have a girl who simply can't keep timelines straight, and mixes up historical figures all the time.  She might NOT want to be a history major.   Or a boy who does illustrations so very detailed, but couldn't hold a tune if you paid him.  Going on to develop his musical talents might well be a waste of time. 

But some weaknesses, like learning the art of public speaking can be taught, and within the confines of homeschooling, can slowly be nurtured even with shy, uncertain youth.  Learning how to speak in public opens up opportunities for youths who aren't sure what they want to do for a living as it's a skill that carries into many career paths.  

Therefore we need to take a long-term view and think about what skills cross career paths that we can make sure our children learn.  Research skills, communication methods, keyboarding, practical skills like homemaking, entrepreneurship, tech.  Things that they will USE regardless of what educational path they end up pursuing. 

Consider paths they may take 

Sometimes helping students figure out what they want to do is as simple as looking to what other family members do for a living.  Farming runs in the blood in some families, others raise up engineers, and still others teach.  It's not a for dead certain as sometimes youths develop interests that are outside of anything their families think of, but it can lead to clues about what they might pursue.  Thinking about what other families members do for a living also helps open ideas.

In my family we have a lot of farmers...but not everyone farms, some sell seed to farmers, others manage herds, still others go into veterinarian medicine.  For years my brother was a landscaper just loving the outdoors.  In my extended family, we have mechanics, teachers, people who do esthetics, lawyers and more.  What intrigues? Do you see tendencies in your students that fit with what others in your family do? 

Taking those cues and adding in courses that help them test those ideas out makes sense does it not?  Give them a history course, or a tech course, or office skills. Give them opportunities to test out what tweaks an interest. 

Consider that exploration leads to passion.

As I was doing research for this article I ran across a comment that a person doesn't need to work in a job that fills their passion.  Sometimes a job or a career is simply something you do to pay the bills.  Sometimes your passions develop outside of your work environment.  And if you work your passion enough you might be able to turn into a money-maker. 

Another commenter mentioned that passions develop from interests you have where you choose to develop your skills.  So if you have an interest in preaching.... you'd practice those skills of research, bible reading, and public speaking.  If you are drawn to wood-working, you'd learn the types of wood you can use, understand woodworking tools, learn to carve, cut or hammer, and maybe watch construction workers on the job.  

Consider not all passions leads to paying jobs

Your student's passion could well end up being their job, but it doesn't have.  Sometimes students just need to learn the skills needed to hold a job.  To support their lifestyle or that of a family.  Nothing wrong with that.  Sometimes we fail our students when we don't tell that.   

Teach them those skills... showing up for work on time, doing what you say you will, working hard and not doing something only "good enough".  Real skills that employers need.  That's a big part of helping these "undecided youth" figure out what they want to do.  What are they willing to work hard at?  

In conclusion

Give your students a well-rounded education, help them discover their passions, and yet not be concerned about finding a job that fits their passions.  Remind your students always, that finding what you want to do is an matter of simply living your life.  Take your time, develop hobbies, try new things, be willing to take a risk and just go for it.  

One way you can allow your student to explore their interests, while still ticking off boxes on the transcript, is to let them pick core class sub-subjects that interest them, such as Ecology or Genetics for science, British History or History of WW2 for history, or Exploration of Fantasy Fiction for language arts.  We're going to help supply one family with a set of language arts and history curriculum that is delight-directed... 

Giveaway!!  One winner will receive copies of Foundations of Western Literature and the History & Philosophy of the Western World!  (These were purchased and printed specifically for this giveaway.  US only.) 

Enter to win on the Homeschooling Upper Grades landing page!

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Annette blogs at A Net in Time where she writes poetry, blogs about homeschooling and matters of faith.  She also reviews books from kindergarten through middle school.  A reader and reviewer who loves to walk and care for critters, she raises bunnies and fancy mice.  Of all the things in her life, her faith in God and her love for her family overrule all other considerations.  You can find her on PinterestMeWeInstagramTwitter and Facebook

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