What's Next? Navigating the Final Years of Homeschooling
- Wednesday, June 17, 2009
2. Having yielded the outcome to God, we are now free to do what is reasonable to help our children set goals and make decisions.
However, we do not determine their goals or make their decisions for them.
Scheming, over-mothering antics may draw laughs on TV, but I am saddened whenever I see real people in their 20s, 30s, and even 40s who are still being coddled and cajoled by their mothers.
Once our children reach adulthood, it is not our responsibility to require that they put money into savings, to hound them about having regular checkups, or to pester them to have the oil changed in their automobiles. As teenagers we slowly hand them the reins of adult responsibilities such as these, and we allow them a stumble or two to help them learn the weightiness of life’s duties and choices.
Now is the time to make certain that our daughters can manage minor automobile care and that our boys can cook a few basic meals and clean the bathroom. Most homeschoolers have had plenty of opportunity to learn basic housekeeping skills over the years. Rest assured that every mother’s son will thank her when he moves into his first dorm or apartment and knows how to operate the washing machine at the laundromat, or when he understands what some of those cleaners in the cabinet are actually used for.
The final season of homeschooling should also be marked by helping your young adults focus their talents and skills on those areas they’d most like to use in their search for a job or career. Many will not know until a few years have passed what it is they really want to do with their lives. But by examining where their interests and talents lie, we can help our young adults discover their goals.
When my oldest son was a high school senior, he felt torn. Avid hunter that he was, and skilled with servicing his own firearms, he had always talked about becoming a gunsmith. On the other hand, he worked part-time at an avionics business, where the owner encouraged him to become a certified technician. As my son neared graduation, he moaned, “Mom, I just don’t know what to do.” Mom, being a typical female, answered (though trying not to be glib), “Well, son, as far as I can tell, whether it’s gunsmithing or avionics, it’s all working with little metal parts.”
It wasn’t exactly the sort of advice he was looking for, but in a way, it did help him make his decision. It led to a discussion of what opportunities each career choice represented. In the end he chose to attend a college of aviation and to use his love of hunting and handling firearms purely for pleasurable pursuits.
My youngest son, meanwhile, wants his passion for music and guitar performance to be the focus of his career choice. He will graduate soon, and we don’t yet know where his talent will lead precisely, but we are prayerfully waiting on God to show both him and us, trusting that as we walk the shadowy paths of indecision, He will light a candle to reveal the walkway for our son.
To help our son set his goals and make these heavy decisions, we have outlined as many options as we could conceive. Some of these include college (two-year, four-year, tech, or individualized school), working full-time and waiting, continued private lessons and self-study, apprenticeship through a local music studio, or pursuing another interest completely. During this time, we start the gradual shift from decision-making parents to confidantes, guidance counselors, and friends. We attempt to not overwhelm our son with our will, but to help him see his way to finding God’s. That’s a fragile process. We feel the need to treat it with care.
As your young adult establishes goals, it becomes necessary to align his academic pursuits with those goals. If college seems to be the best path, then you will likely spend a good deal of time studying for the ACTs or SATs during those final high school years. You will also want to spend time researching scholarship opportunities or visiting college campuses or virtual schools that interest you. You may investigate training through the military as another option. If your son or daughter intends to start his or her own business, then classes in business and accounting or an apprenticeship with a business owner might be in order. During our son’s senior high year, when he was trying to make that decision about attending an avionics school, we enrolled him in a basic electronics course to see whether his interest and aptitude would lead him toward such further pursuits.
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