Jul 6, 2012

Recognizing What is Really Important - Thinking about your child's future

Should have known then
 she would want to go
into cosmetology!
There is no time like the present to think about what your child wants in the future. If you have been a reader of my blog for more than a week I am sure that you have seen more than one post about changes that we have made - in curricula, scheduling, hair colors you name it! We are all about changes, going with the flow, following interests and dropping things that just don't work, but I also really REALLY like a plan so that I have a constant direction.

When a parent is looking ahead at their child's home education path they need to have an end goal in mind in order to help their child achieve their goals - be it college, trade school, internships, job skills, entrepreneurship or whatever else they can think of. In order to focus on what is important to the child you need to be aware of their likes and dislikes and allow them to have some say in what they are doing. You also need to be observant of your child and by recognizing their strengths and weaknesses you can often discover at a young age which path might be a good fit for them and help to lead them in the right direction. I am not saying that you can determine at the age of 5 whether a child will be a doctor or a runway model or a gas attendant, but if you pay attention you will be able to acknowledge that your math hating 14 year old will probably never be an engineer.

I hear so many parents complaining about fighting with a child to get work completed, especially when the kids enter the teenage years. The cries of "when am I ever going to use this?" bring frustration and resistance into a relationship at such a critical stage which requires nurturing and continuity. Listen to your child and really think about whether they are likely to "use this" or are you just following someone else's pre-designed plan. More than 90% of people never use the advanced high school math that they were forced to learn in the "real world". That is JUST math. How many adults know how to diagram a sentence, know all of the functions of the organs, can recite the periodic table of elements, can name all 50 states - you homeschool mom's don't count, since you probably learned it while TEACHING it to your kids!!!

I am not discounting any of these as important or not, just using it to point out that different people have different skill sets and different kids have different interests. Families have things that are important to them and parents have some things that they are not willing to bend on for various reasons. You should expose your kids to EVERYTHING, introduce and encourage exploration, but if no spark is lit then what is the point in forcing drudgery and disdain for the topic. This "one path fits all" approach that many homeschoolers start out with really is not much better than school. Not all children are going to head off to college and they shouldn't! We need people who work at the grocery store, at the gas station,on the theater stage,and  to invent the next must have gadget, just as much as we need doctors and engineers. There is no less value in any particular path and all are necessary for our society to function.

So when planning ahead really take into consideration your families fundamental requirements and your child's interests and goals. Don't just follow the status quo, but challenge it and challenge yourself to truly meet the needs of your child!

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