One day I paused at my work and looked out the window, suddenly retrospective. It had just occurred to me that being homeschooled prepared me to work from home. While I believe there are multiple reasons why homeschooling positively shaped me for the workforce, I’ve noticed a few foundational skills in particular.
For instance, during my pre-highschool years my parents helped me learn skills that prepared me for high school when I was released to craft my own school work schedule. So during high school I had to manage my time and be disciplined enough to complete my assigned tasks. These skills directly carried over into my remote work life as an adult. That’s pretty great!
All homeschool households are different. And each parent and student within those households are also infinitely unique. However, all homeschool parents probably ask themselves these questions at some point: how does homeschooling prepare my kids for entering the workforce? How can I guide them towards a career path?
Well, you’re in luck because that’s what we’re here to talk about today!
Sometimes the Work is Already Done for You
Let’s start with the first question: how does homeschooling naturally prepare kids for entering the workforce?
- Homeschooling inherently produces “anytime, anywhere” learners—students are subconsciously aware that school isn’t just in the classroom or their textbooks. Basically, homeschoolers learn to always be learning. It’s like breathing to them! Imagine entering the workplace with that mindset? You’re wired to solve problems and find solutions by reflex. What employer doesn’t love that?
- Observing and participating in a functional home environment establishes a keen sense of reality in children. Homeschoolers spend their days orbiting the inner-workings of a household and are slowly shaped by the hard work and responsibility modeled by their parents. This seamlessly translates into their adulthood. Employers love an employee who “gets it” when it comes to reality and what it takes to work for your reward.
- Homeschoolers gain a relational advantage as well. The homeschooltoolbox.com explains that “Your students at home will be observing and participating in the day to day communication skills needed to navigate life successfully…students observe the communication skills needed to conduct business and work with others.” That’s a pot of gold right there!
- Not to forget—homeschoolers are typically equipped to interact with multiple age groups, not just their peers and parents. This strength is a valuable asset in their future as a working member of society that’s filled with various demographics.
Becoming an Adventure Guide
But there’s a little more to career exploration than the points mentioned above, right? How can you, as a parent/teacher, help guide your child toward a career choice?
You are the facilitator of great exploration, my friend. In all likelihood, you’ve taught your child to be curious through their homeschooling journey to this point. Let that theme continue as you guide them towards their broader future.
Teens often resist when reminded that their future is coming and they must make a choice about it. But, instead of making it seem like looming danger if they don’t choose something—and quick—perhaps try leading them on an adventure.
Glad you asked! As early as junior high, start your child on a career consideration path through some unique measures:
- Create a Job Family Tree. This means you sit down and draw out a family tree with your student and list the jobs of your relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), and then get your student to start interviewing these family members for the purpose of discovering what it’s like to be in the workforce, how they chose their job, why they like it, etc.
- Take advantage of your educational freedom to get involved in whatever your child is interested in! Whether it’s IT, piano tuning, flying an airplane, craftsmanship, mechanics, art and design—anything! Find experts in those fields and ask if your child can shadow them for a day or see if they offer internships or apprenticeships.
- Additionally, homeschoolers often have the opportunity to get a more interest-based job at a younger age since their schedule is more flexible. Be paying attention to your child’s aptitude and the opportunities in your area.
- One former homeschool student I interviewed while researching shared that: “My parents bought me books, kits, and tools for whatever I was interested in. They might give me a nudge in the right direction or be ready whenever I asked for help, but I also enjoyed teaching myself by pouring over stacks of books to research a history topic or flipping through magazines for new ideas for my dream card making business.”
- Actively draw your teens attention to their abilities and offer them consistent feedback on their output. According to Homeschooling Teens 4 Success, “We all need feedback. And your kids are looking to you for it whether you give it or not. In fact, if you aren’t giving them enough positive feedback, they may think they are doing things wrong, even if they aren’t. You want to give them this teaching, this reassurance, and ultimately, confidence in their unique abilities and gifts.”
- If you notice that your child is exceptionally compassionate, level-headed, or academically astute, tell them! These planted seeds of encouragement form in their minds and sprout to the surface whether they realize it or not. And as they keep growing in their abilities, it will be easier for them to know what they would and wouldn’t like to pursue as a career.
- As you proceed towards your student’s final years of high school, consider having a discussion about their values and what they want for their future in terms of their values. (Remember, this doesn’t mean they have to know exactly what they want to do, but the kind of person they want to be in the workforce.) For instance: “Ask your homeschooler what gives them meaning. What do they see as their life purpose? What type of work environment do they envision and what results do they want most from their work?” says Pathful Explore.
Real stories from real people
As we researched, it seemed beneficial to bring in and share with you some first-hand experience from homeschoolers we’ve interviewed about how they were prepared for the workforce. (Notice some of the common themes from these individual stories!)
Shelbie says, “Homeschooling gave me a lot of grit and determination to stick with long, frustrating projects because of the incredibly challenging curriculum we used. My video-based school also required me to be self-motivated and learn HOW to learn. My homeschool experience, driven by my mom, also taught me that learning is a wonderful part of life, not something that ended when I graduated high school or college.”
It’s great when adults who were homeschooled had a positive experience and are now preparing to homeschool their kids, like Michelle. “I’m excited to home school [my child]. For sure it’ll be different than how my parents did it, but there’s beauty in building on the good and making something better for the next generation.”
Homeschooling can easily lead to broad cultural awareness, something invaluable in the workforce. Catherine says, “My parents made sure I participated in volunteer and hobby groups, which helped me meet and interact with a wide array of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and ages. Interacting with diverse people taught important interpersonal skills and an appreciation for people different from myself.”
For Anna, the path to a career was streamlined by her college-readiness. “As a high school student intent on pursuing an occupation in nursing, I had two goals in mind: become a nurse as soon as possible and do it debt-free. I started out on a course of dual enrollment, taking my pre-requisites and gen-ed courses while still in high school. Because of this, I was able to get several courses free, and others at a discounted rate. I also availed myself of CLEP tests, which allowed me to test out of several gen-ed courses that were required for my program, but which I didn’t want to spend time or money on.”
She continues to recommend that homeschoolers always keep a list of their extra curricular and service activities: “This can be park clean up days, nursing home activities, helping out in your church nursery, or participating in Veterans and Memorial Day services by helping set up flags or preparing flowers for the cemeteries…These things show review committees that you have commitment, you’re service-minded, and you’re hardworking.”
Now’s the time!
We hope you’ve been encouraged and discovered resources through the ideas and stories in this post. As always, we encourage you to dig in and do more research of your own. See what’s available in your area and always continue learning about your child so that you can guide them in the best path possible!