This post is Part 3 in a 3-part series about career planning for homeschool and high school students. Here are the topics in this series:
Part 1: What are the options? Employee vs. Employer
Part 2: What career is the best fit? Exploring career fields
Part 3: What can parents do to help? A paradigm shift in education
Career planning requires a paradigm shift in education
Parents educate their children at home for any number of reasons. But I would venture to say that most—if not all—parents educate their children so they will be well-prepared to have fulfilling careers that they enjoy, whether that is a career as a doctor, teacher, or even as a stay-at-home mom.
So with that goal in mind, I suggest that we allow our children to focus on their strengths, and not worry overmuch if they don’t excel in every subject they study.
That sounds like heresy to many homeschoolers, I know. But the truth is, that old excuse we gave some of our teachers in school, "When are we going to use this in real life?" is actually true in many cases. Not everything we studied in school is applicable in our adult lives. It's true that not every job involves advanced math skills—in fact, very few do. And for many of us, the most useful skills we use as adults are things we didn't even learn in school.
So if a child struggles in math, and just doesn’t “get” higher math, chances are he will probably not pursue a career that requires high-level math skills. Most likely his career choice will be determined by his strengths, not his weaknesses. So forcing that child to focus his energy on his weakest areas—making him take higher math courses and even hiring tutors to help him make better grades— may not be the most beneficial thing to do for his education. Allowing that child to focus on improving his strengths would probably be a greater benefit to his future.
Of course, that’s not to say that we should ignore our child’s weak areas. But I suggest we need to look at the big picture, at what will help our children on their path to a career. Perhaps if your child is weak in math but strong in science, a science tutor or extra science-related experiences would be a better choice than a math tutor.
It's something to consider.
Discuss education after high school
For many careers, high school won’t be enough. So as you discuss career options with your child, make sure you discuss the kind of education that is required for each type of career. You might be surprised that a four-year degree isn’t the best course to take. Technical school, or even self-education and experience might be the ideal way to learn a particular career. Maybe having a mentor or doing an apprenticeship would also be beneficial, even at a young age (yet another reason to start the career discussion early!).
The most important thing is to do your research and learn what the options are, and then discuss it with your child.
Helpful resources for career planning
Here are some books that can help you and your homeschool child with career planning.