My husband had to talk me off the ledge once. Figuratively, that is. 🙂 I was having a cow because I had seen that the Missouri public school requirements (at the time, they may have changed by now) listed that students were to have a “career path” chosen by the end of 8th grade.
EIGHTH GRADE. By around 14 years old, they expected kids to know what they wanted to be when they grew up. Say what?? I was totally freaked out because I didn’t see how my kids would be able to make such a large decision at such a young age, nor did I feel like I SHOULD narrow my kids’ options down to a specific career at that point.
My husband had to remind me that we are in fact homeschoolers, and that means we don’t have to do what the public schools do. Um, DUH!!! But I still remember how relieved I felt to hear him say that. Every once in awhile we can be blind to the obvious, can’t we? LOL.
I think it is the NORM, not the exception, for the rising high schooler to have NO CLUE what they want to do after graduation. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that we can let them explore many different possibilities and not be shoehorned into a plan that might not suit them later.
But that does lead to the question of how to design their course of study for high school when there is nothing to go by. Do they want to go to college? Do they want to go to work? Do they want to sit around and play video games? Wait, that’s not an option. I don’t care if they think it is, lol.
How do we know what to do to prepare them for an undefined eventuality?
Well, I have some advice. That’s why I’m here, after all. 🙂
First, I think it’s ALWAYS a good idea to look at what the colleges require, even if you are fairly certain your child won’t be headed there. Why is that? Because YOU WILL ALWAYS WONDER. You just will; you know you will; don’t even try to deny it. 🙂
But also, sometimes it’s good to hedge your bets a little. In 8th grade, when you are planning all this stuff, how can you be absolutely certain your child WON’T go to college? They may change direction completely in the next four years.
Or maybe sometime after graduation they will suddenly realize what is calling to them and that it requires college. It happens often, I think; some kids are just slower to develop along those lines, but once they get there, they are DOWN with it.
So no one will be wasting their time by researching what colleges require. You will feel much more confident in what you do plan if you know that information up front. More information about how to do that research in The First Step to Prepare Yourself for Homeschooling High School.
Second, if they are thinking about a tech school of some sort, then research what that school requires of their applicants. If it’s the local beauty school, or truck-driving school, or dental hygienist school — surely there is a website you can look at, or do it the old-fashioned way and just give them a call. They WANT to talk to you because they want your child as a student.
Third, always be familiar with your state’s homeschool laws. What they say is required to graduate, you need to do. But you might be surprised by how little they require. Be sure you are not looking at the PUBLIC school graduation requirements but at what the HOMESCHOOL LAW says.
This is why I always say it’s not that hard to homeschool high school. There is SO MUCH LEEWAY in how you do this thing. You can make it fit your family, rather than having to jump through a bunch of unnecessary hoops.
The beauty of electives
If your child doesn’t know what they want to do with their life, then you can use high school to explore everything they are thinking about. Electives are an amazing thing, y’all. You can give credit for them to study anatomy or to job-shadow a dog groomer or to volunteer in a political campaign or to prepare meals. The possibilities are endless.
That’s why I say it’s good to only plan specific courses and curriculum one year at a time. Kids’ interests change like the weather, lol. Wait until the summer before to solidify which interests you will pursue that year.
And here’s an amazing thought: it is TOTALLY OK for your kid to STILL not know what they want to do even when they are actually graduating, like, right now. College doesn’t HAVE to happen right after high school.
True life examples:
My fourth child, who graduated just last week, is going to work full-time at the fast-food job he has done part-time for the last two years. He may or may not take a course at the community college; he hasn’t decided yet. He just needs more time to grow up a little before committing to a certain path. No biggie.
My third child went off to college thinking one thing and pretty much immediately realized she wasn’t going to like it. She switched her major during the spring semester of freshman year and hasn’t looked back.
My second child tried college for two years — in two different places — and is now back at home without finishing. She says dropping out was the best decision she ever made. She is being productive, is working towards being independent, and is happy. Do I need more? No, I do not.
My first child is the ONLY ONE who knew without a doubt what she wanted to do after high school graduation and has stuck with it. We were able to structure her high school program very specifically to meet her goal. She’s now in grad school.
So what’s the takeaway from all this?
Well, do your research. But be flexible. And also, don’t think you have to cover EVERY possibility. If your child develops a different interest than the one you thought you were preparing them for, they can pursue it themselves later — especially if you’ve taught them independent learning like we talked about in The Best Way to Prepare Your Child to Homeschool High School.
Can I just do a shameless plug right here and say that my new ebook will walk you through ALL of these steps of research and planning so that you won’t feel so overwhelmed? You can take a look at it here: Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: How to Be SURE You’re Not Missing Anything.
If you have a kid who is clueless about future goals — and most are at this point — homeschooling high school is the BEST way to help them figure it all out. You can work with your child to create opportunities and take the time you need to explore options. No freaking out necessary!