For those homeschool veterans out there, do you ever feel like the face of homeschool is changing? I know I do. I began homeschooling in 2001 and have graduated two homeschooled students. Over the years, I’ve watched (and participated) as homeschooling’s main cause shifted from parental freedom to socialization wars and now academic excellence.
And while not all change is bad, I do believe we need to be careful when focusing solely on academics. If we want our children to function in the world – to give, create, build, and thrive – they need more than straight A’s. They need specific skills that will serve them in all areas of life.
4 Skills Every Homeschool Graduate Needs
This may seem like a no brainer. However, America is struggling with literacy. 14% of US adults read at a 5th grade level or below, and 29% read at an 8th grade level or below (source). That’s staggering. Our children need to be able to read and read well. Even something as simple as filling out a job application requires a certain level of literacy and comprehension. Without the gift of literacy, our children will have difficulty obtaining gainful employment or having hope of advancement.
Our children don’t need to memorize exact dates of wars or presidents’ birth dates. They need to be able to read and comprehend.
CRITICAL THINKING / PLANNING / GOAL SETTING
One thing I insist my high school students have is curriculum that incorporates critical thinking, planning, and goal setting. One look at daytime television will show you that our world is full of people who want to go from A to D in one step. Planning, goal setting, work ethic? They are foreign concepts to some. Sadly, if our children don’t have the skills to plan (their goals, their time), life will be much more challenging.
The good news is, critical thinking doesn’t have to be difficult to teach. You can find lots of critical thinking/planning resources online.
I’m not here to beat you with the socialization stick. Socialization is not just a homeschool issue – if it were, bullying wouldn’t be such an issue in public school or the workplace. However, I believe the issue goes beyond socialization and rests on social aptitude. I want my children to be able to socialize comfortably as adults, and I want them to have the aptitude to read others in those social situations. I want my children to be able to read social cues and have emotional perception in order to work well with others – coworkers, spouse, extended family.
It’s so interesting that many believe intelligence has just as much to do with social aptitude as IQ (source).
Last but not least, our children need drive. Determination. Motivation. Ambition. What’s that old saying? When the going gets tough, the tough get going! I’m sad to admit that, in my younger years, my motto was more: “When the going gets tough, I give up and hope no one notices.” I don’t want that for my children. I hope and pray they have the drive to reach for the stars as well as the wisdom to know how and when to get there. Even my daughter, if she chooses to be a stay-at-home mom like me, will need that drive! It’s not always easy to get up and do laundry when the toddler has been sick all night, right?
I want my kids to know that it’s okay to fall down. The important part is that you get back up and reassess!
What skills do you think are most important for homeschool graduates?