In case you missed it, join me for part 1 of Planning for Life After Homeschooling: Graduation and Beyond where I discussed spiritual preparedness and finances.
I was chatting with another mother at a ballgame some years ago. I only had my younger children with me, and she asked where my oldest daughter was (who at the time was about 15). I said that I had dropped her off at the grocery store (across the field from us) to pick up the groceries and I was about to go and pick her up. The look on her face told me she couldn’t believe that I would do such a thing. “I would never be able to drop off my daughter at the store (who was also 15)! There is no telling what she would buy!”
I had never really given it much thought before, but at that moment I became conscious of the fact that many, many children are not prepared to become adults. The are given the keys and the credit cards, but they haven’t even been taught the basic foundations of living.
I has been our goal to try to teach our children all the skills that they will need to run their own homes and families should the Lord bless them with such. And even if He has other plans for them, they still need to take care of themselves…and this includes both the boys and the girls.
Practical areas to concentrate on are:
the home — cooking (meal planning, grocery shopping), cleaning (bathrooms, floors, kitchen), laundry, simple home repairs
outdoors — yard work, vehicle maintenance
finances — bank accounts, atm usage, check writing/balancing, reading bills, paying bills, filing taxes
childcare — basic childcare (changing, feeding, watching)
other — making appointments, calling to solve problems (for instance, upgrading telephone service), ordering products, reading and signing contracts
I am sure there are many other things that we should make sure our children know how to do, but this gives you an idea of the areas that need to be worked on. And I would also add, don’t wait until their Senior year to get started! Sure there are some things that can wait until they are older, but it is better to start small and work on them over time. When I still living at home, my responsibilities included laundry and sometimes washing dishes. I had never really cooked much. Needless to say, the first year of our marriage we didn’t eat very well!
Another benefit of training our children in these areas very early on, is that it becomes a habit in them and is not seen as a drudgery. Again, when I first married, I had the hardest time keeping my dishes washed. I couldn’t stand washing dishes and I always let them pile up. However, over the years I have learned that I feel so much better when my dishes are washed. I work diligently to get them done (although the task has become much harder as our family has grown!) and keep them done. I have actually grown to like washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen.
I know that this is the one that you all have been waiting for and as I homeschooler, I can see why. We spend so many years going over curriculum and lesson plans and schoolwork. We question whether we are doing enough, or whether we are teaching the right things. And while it would be nice if there was a planning checklist (there are) and we just went down the list and made sure to get everything done, I don’t think that is the best plan for a Christian homeschooler. God has created each one of us uniquely, and He has a specific plan for each of our lives.
I guess this idea really struck home in September when my mother died. We had made so many plans together for when my husband retired and we moved back to Texas. After her death, I fully comprehended the fact that we have no control over the direction our lives take. Why then would we hold tightly to our own plans? It is always best to surrender to the plans the Lord has for us and our children.
In light of this, it is a good idea to prepare for His plans. I can see the confusion now, “You just said to surrender to His plans but now you are saying to prepare for them. What if I don’t know what they are?”
Many times we don’t know His exact plans, but if we seek Him and His ways, He will begin to show us (at least the part we need to know now). For example, if you have a child that is set on a career that would require a college degree (engineering, medical doctor, etc.), you can begin early in their high school years to prepare them for that kind of learning. I would say this is what most of us do naturally because it has been engrained into our minds that all kids should plan for college. Anyhow, I would look at the requirements for college and have them take higher level classes during high school to prepare them for the amount of work they will be doing in college.
Now for the other types of children that don’t want to or don’t feel led to go to college, I would start thinking outside the box. Honestly, I feel that the Lord is pulling many families away from the mainstream colleges just as He has pulled us away from public schools. I personally see a great benefit is preparing during high school for an occupation. My son is interested in filmmaking, and at 15 we have been trying to find different avenues for him to learn…right now. At 13, 14, 15, our kid’s minds are like sponges, especially when what they are learning is interesting to them.
I just don’t feel like it serves them well to make them drag along in a boring chemistry class when what they really want to learn is computer programming. If they ever need chemistry in their life (and assuming you have lit a fire in them that loves to learn), they will be able to learn chemistry. I took chemistry in high school and didn’t remember a thing I learned. However, once I started learning to make soap or learned about the chemical constituents in herbs, chemistry became much more interesting and made much more sense!
I guess the main thing I would suggest looking at is:
Where has the Lord put us/my child?
What skills does he/she already possess?
What interest does he/she have?
What tugs at their heart strings?
All in all, it is really a matter of faith. Will you trust the Lord enough to lead you on His path? Sometimes it is hard and we back pedal and panic and think “oh, no, I haven’t prepared them!” But God is so faithful to those that love Him and seek His ways.
Just recently, I was in a panic mode because I was realizing that I hadn’t had my son do much science. We had started with Biology, but it was too much for him. He didn’t enjoy it and all the vocabulary terms completely overwhelmed him. At that time I had no problem saying “let’s not do it, let’s work on something you enjoy learning about.” But when you start looking at graduation requirements and see 3 years of science, it makes you feel like you aren’t doing enough. So I got nervous.
After a couple of days and a good talk with my daughter and my son, I calmed down and remembered that this is my child’s education–not the states. Yes, he does need three years of science, but it is not set in stone as to which ones to take, nor which course material to use. We decided that learning about geology and weather would be much more interesting and could help fulfill his science requirements. And if he needs to, he can take a dual credit science class at the junior college during his Senior year.
Are you looking for more homeschool planning advice? The bloggers of iHomeschool Network are joining forces this week providing you with all kinds of tools to help you plan your homeschool year!