Preparing Your Homeschool Graduate for Adulthood
On this blog we do a lot of articles aimed at helping the homeschool newbie learn about the options and opportunities that homeschooling makes available. Today I want to speak to those on the other end of the spectrum, those whose children are grown and about to move on to the next stage in life. You’ve walked the homeschool road and come successfully to the end of your journey. What do you do now that your homeschooling years are about to come to an end?
Not a Final Destination, But a Stop Over
I have found it best not to view this time of life as the “end” of your homeschooling experience. Graduating your kids and getting them off to college (or whatever comes next for them) is not the final destination, but merely a stop over. You will always have educational opportunities with your child, even if adulthood changes the nature of how these opportunities are explored.
If your teen is preparing to fly the coop, it’s time to start thinking about making sure he or she is ready for life after high school. I don’t necessarily mean prepping for college (although that certainly may be part of it). Rather, I’m talking about getting your child ready to face the world they are going to be thrust into post-graduation. Even with the best of educations, the world is still a big and confusing place for a young person. Your children may need your guidance more navigating their early twenties than they ever did with 7th-grade algebra.
So, in the first place, reorient your mindset—your homeschooling experience is not over, it is just transforming.
Building a Solid Foundation in Faith
In homeschooling, we spend a lot of time talking about our responsibility as the prime educators of our children. It can be easy to forget that the reason we homeschool is to empower our children to live a successful life on their own, without us. Part of that is providing them with a solid foundation in our Catholic faith. We all want our kids to continue to practice the faith on their own as they grow up. We want the Catholic faith to be nourishing to their spirits as it is to ours. Part of this is making sure your own faith experience in the home is one of joy. Children are more likely to retain the faith if their memories of it from childhood are ones of happiness.
We must also pass on the intellectual heritage of the faith. The option of wrapping faith formation into education is one of the principle reasons Catholics choose to homeschool. Tie the faith into your curriculum: teach them formal logic, Catholic philosophy & theology, and practical apologetics. These things will all serve your kids well in the long run, equipping their minds to deal with a lot of the nonsense they will encounter out in the world.
Discerning One’s Vocation
We all hear sermons on vocational discernment and see the bulletins put out by our diocese. But, to what degree have we helped our child really work through this discernment process? Every young Catholic should take time to discern their vocation, prayerfully considering if they are called to marriage, or perhaps the priesthood or religious life.
This is something you can facilitate. Take them to Adoration; pray in solitude before the Blessed Sacrament, and listen for God’s call. If there is the possibility of a religious vocation, have them attend vocational discernment retreats or vocational events sponsored by the diocese. Religious and priestly orders usually offer similar discernment opportunities. The important thing is not to pressure them. Encourage your child to explore their God-given call, then give them space to sort it out with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Exploring Career Options
If your child is uncertain about the career he or she wishes to pursue, help them learn about various career options (including stay-at-home mom). It is good to spend a semester researching this during high school; perhaps turn it into a research project where they must present a full research report at the end of the year. Or, if your student is otherwise uncommitted, this can be done the semester after graduation. Have them spend time studying the details of different careers. They should learn about the benefits and drawbacks of potential careers, what education and skills are necessary, the earning potential, long-term prospects, and anything relating to that career.
The Catholic Homeschool Conference has an excellent event called the Life After High School Conference every November. This is an interactive online conference that provides a plethora of resources and advice for preparing for that transition from high school to adulthood. To learn more, email [email protected].
It is common for new graduates to want to start working and building income. Many enter the workforce while they are still in high school. How do you know when your child is ready to start working? There really is no hard and fast rule. Some kids get part-time jobs as early as 14; others may wait until after graduation. It is a prudential call you and your child should make together based on your child’s specific interests, schedule, and work ethic. But in general, a part-time job can be a great experience for a student in so many ways. It helps acclimate them to the ways of the workaday world: keeping regular work hours, dealing with the public, answering to a boss, learning the ins and outs of business, getting a paycheck—and having to fork over taxes!
A Time for Personal Growth
Teenagers typically feel an intense desire to establish an identity for themselves apart from their family. While this sometimes manifests itself in expressions of teenage “rebellion”, it need not be so. Children should be encouraged to learn about themselves, practice introspection, and grow with intentionality. “The unexamined life is not worth living”, said Socrates.
There are many ways to go about this. Many people find value in taking personality tests. Personality tests are not hard science, but they can offer interesting insights into one’s personality and motivations. One popular assessment is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. The DISC test, HEXACO assessment, and the Workplace Personality Test are other options. One concept I have found personally helpful is the principle of Ikigai, a method that helps a person visualize the right balance between passion, profession, mission, and vocation.
Emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth are all integral to healthy development. Encourage your child to explore these parts of himself. A firm grounding in one’s own identity also helps inoculate a person against ideologies and groups that prey on people insecure in their self-identity.
Learning Adult Skills
Have you ever seen twenty-somethings online complaining about “adulting”? The term adulting has become a catch-all phrase describing the tasks and responsibilities characteristic of adulthood. There is no reason your child needs to be caught off guard by adulting! The latter years of high school are a great time to introduce your child to some of the skills a person needs to be a competent, functional adult. This might include:
- Opening a junior bank account for them to get them accustomed to the banking process.
- Beginning to build their credit.
- Teaching the basics of automobile maintenance (checking fluids, how to get the spare tire off, etc.)
- Shopping around for auto insurance
- The basics of tax preparation
- Filling out a FAFSA form
- Navigating college websites and understanding what departments handle what
- How to fill out a job application and talk to prospective employer
- Creating a resume
I could give more examples of this sort of thing, but I’m sure you get the point. These sorts of skills are the things a child should pick up from parents as they transition into adulthood. They aren’t about job skills or higher education, but just about navigating the adult world in general.
Let Them Spread Their Wings!
As high school draws to a close, it is a time to let your children spread their wings. Let them dip their toes into the water of the adult world. Your active homeschooling might be winding down, but you are always going to be mentoring your child, especially as they set sail on the ocean of adulthood. The more supported your child feels in this regard, the more successful he or she will be—intellectually, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Additional Catholic Homeschool Resource to Help You…
Good Counsel Careers is a new resource brought to you by the Homeschool Connections family. It is designed to help teens discern life after high school. The service focuses on transforming students from uncertainty in their direction to young men & women confident in their vocational path. Good Counsel Careers does this by providing career role models, short easy-to-implement courses, career exploration resources, gap year information, and more.
If you’d like to continue this discussion, we invite you to join us at our Catholic Homeschool Community and get a conversation going. God bless you and your homeschool!