It’s that time of year again. As the spring blossoms emerge and warmer weather approaches, we are nearing the end of another school year. We think it will be so nice to get a break, sleep in a little, finally organize those photos, or just stay on top of the laundry for a change.
But shadowing these happy thoughts is a growing sense of urgency to begin planning for the next school year. Which curriculum should I buy? Will a co-op work for us? What about online classes? We’re so anxious about making the wrong choice and maybe leaving gaps in our children’s education. Meanwhile, we keep hearing how our kids need to choose a career path NOW, before college, so they can take the necessary prep courses to stay ahead of the game.
Yet much of this pressure is self-imposed. Do we really need to figure out a child’s career path by the time he or she gets braces? Obviously, we want to prepare our children to succeed, but how do we do that without becoming obsessed ourselves and stressing out our children?
First, take a deep breath.
As a homeschool parent, rest assured you have the BEST possible vantage point from which to observe your children, identify their strengths and abilities, and discover their passions. After all, you’ve been observing your children since they were infants. When birthdays roll around, you know exactly what kinds of toys they will like. If she enjoys imaginative play time, use that knowledge. Does he like construction toys such as Legos or erector sets? Or does a day of outdoor adventure get her excited? Does he like problem-solving games? Does she like crafts? All of these are clues to a child’s God-given strengths and passions, and those can translate into a potential career path.
A love for construction toys can show that a student has spatial and problem-solving skills or that they like to see a project through from conception to completion. Careers that fit these skills include engineering, design, accounting, and other math-driven fields.
Do they enjoy working with a group of people to solve a common problem? Do they like solving riddles? Maybe they enjoy the colors and themes of the game. “Interviewing” your children about the things they enjoy will help you (and they) learn more about their God-given strengths and abilities. You can then begin to speak into their lives and give them a vision.
I will never forget the time when my parents realized that I always completed my science homework first before any of my other subjects. I had never really noticed, but they did. And they suggested I could be a scientist one day because I really enjoyed that subject. This stayed with me, and as it turned out, I did study science in college. Today I can see how God designed me with that special bent.
He has given each of my children a natural giftedness, too. It’s not written across their foreheads (though sometimes I wish it were!), but it is something my husband and I enjoy discovering in them as we go about our everyday activities, doing schoolwork and living life together.
As a homeschooler, you have the special ability to let your kids explore their passions. A flexible school schedule allows for unique ventures such as job shadowing or internships. They can take charge of some of their school assignments and even become a teacher for their younger siblings. Giving them plenty of opportunities to explore will familiarize them with many more career possibilities than a traditional education in a brick-and-mortar school can provide.
Remember, you are helping them to grow, to discover, and to flourish—not by force-feeding them the latest curriculum because everyone else is using it, but by allowing God to direct you as you discover (along with your children) His specific direction for their lives. To paraphrase Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for your children, declares the Lord, plans to prosper your children and not to harm your children, plans to give your children hope and a future.”
God knows what He has in mind for our kids. Our job is to help them discover what those perfect plans are. And that makes the journey worthwhile and fun!