This is the final post in the series on the blessings of homeschooling. We’ve talked about serving others and traveling. Today, we’ll talk about how homeschooling offers opportunities to network and gain job experience.
There is still a crazy misconception out there that homeschoolers have no social skills. People on the outside of the homeschooling world assume that homeschooling is isolation at its best – or worst. However, our experience has been that homeschooled children have MORE opportunities to socialize in QUALITY social situations than their public schooled and private schooled counterparts.
Because homeschooling hours are flexible, homeschooled children and families are able to be at events during hours most children are in school. Sometimes a public or private school will be able to take a field trip to an event, but it is always a form of crowd control and rarely a time that involves quality interaction with whomever the event is centered around.
On the other hand, homeschoolers tend to go places as families. There are the occasional homeschool field trips, but most of the time even those are attended by entire families. The time they spend at the event or venue is usually not only better quality, but also higher quantity. They have the time to spend truly learning and asking questions; whereas, a school group is on time constraints and is forced to shuffle from one place to another as quickly as possible.
As I mentioned, homeschoolers are good at asking questions. These questions tend to lead to interactions that often result in more “behind-the scenes” information and opportunities. For instance, several years ago, we visited a museum in South Dakota during the off season. Our children were the only children there. During the tour, our oldest son, who was 9 at the time, was allowed to help the docent by holding artifacts and answering questions. She catered to our family, and even gave us extra privileges to explore various parts of the museum.
Museums are a great place to start networking. Many museums have special guests, and if you can swing a membership, you are often invited to members only events where you get to meet important people. Our children have met astronauts and mountain climbers, authors and entrepreneurs.
So, let’s talk about how cultivate these networking opportunities that can turn into careers for your children.
First of all, teach your children manners and how to listen. Teach them at home, and then take them out in public to practice. Being polite and listening closely will go a LONG way in giving your children chances to meet people and participate in important opportunities.
Secondly, look for opportunities that match your children’s interests (and yours!). Invest in museum memberships and magazines that will have events that will be of interest to your family. Save up money to attend a “once-in-a-lifetime” event. Encourage your children to enter writing or photography contests. Take them to a variety of historical sites, shops, and restaurants as you travel from one place to another. These types of investments will often lead to chances to gain knowledge and experience that will further your child’s interests.
Encourage your children to ask questions. One thing people do not do enough of is ask questions. It’s important to acknowledge that we can learn from others, especially those who are older than ourselves. This is networking at its best! To encourage your children to ask questions, be sure to ask your own questions when on a museum tour or at an events.
Teach your children to volunteer. Some of the best networking comes from time spent learning a skill and gathering information without expecting to be paid. You might call it good old fashioned internships or apprenticeships. You never know when these opportunities will turn into a “real job.”
Teach your children to work hard. Do everything as unto the Lord – even if it is something menial or boring. There have been many times my son has been working hard doing something for his grandparents, and has ended up being hired by a neighbor to do the same thing at their house. His hard work is evident.
I would highly encourage you to take a look at the 10KtoTalent Website for more ideas on how to gain valuable networking and job experience for teens!
I want to leave you with this…
Don’t be afraid to live counter-culturally. Don’t be afraid to instill work ethic in your children by having them work hard at home. Don’t be afraid to be different and not look like everyone else. It will be noticed. It will be appreciated. It will lead to opportunities for your children. But above all, don’t stress. God has a calling for each of your children. He fills in the gaps you leave – and you will leave gaps just as there were gaps in your education. He equips your children (and you!) for the things He has called them to. Rest easy in His faithfulness!