The beauty of homeschooling or unschooling your kids is the ability to let your children pursue knowledge and life development in a way that’s specially fitted to them. It encourages a lifelong craving for learning and independent, critical thought. For teenagers, this education frequently means planning for the future. Parents looking to prepare teens for their lives ahead, but still wanting to embrace independence from the school system, can find a wealth of educational resources beyond the classroom.
Do you have a friend who runs a restaurant? How about a tech startup? Maybe a buddy who plays in a band on the weekends? Everyone has passions, skills and a lifetime of experience that makes your friends, neighbors and family members a treasure trove of educational opportunities. Teens can learn firsthand how hobbies and interests can grow into careers, or about skills applicable to the working world. This experience beyond the classroom can be as simple as getting a tour of a work facility or as involved as an internship or part-time job.
Homeschooling affords parents time to develop emotional skillsets that often go neglected in a traditional school education. Volunteering for charities, food kitchens, shelters or community projects can help a teen develop their social skills and empathy. It can also teach the joy that can be found in helping others. Volunteering can often lead to an education in practical money-handling skills that are hard to obtain as a teen and utterly vital to a happy life, like budgeting. They can also learn organizational skills, like people and resource management. Volunteering to build community housing teaches construction skills, while work in a retirement home or hospital helps hone compassion and caregiving. It encourages investment in the community, self-esteem and a greater awareness of the world beyond the classroom. If your teen is headed towards a college education, volunteering can also work well on their application.
The internet is a modern day Library of Alexandria. It is the collected knowledge of the world at large, and the learning opportunities are endless. iTunes offers podcasts and learning apps to teach anything from algebra to zen philosophy. Ted Talks work well for teens who have the constant curiosity itch to scratch. Ted Talks offer niche knowledge or new perspectives beyond the classroom. Top colleges, including Ivy Leagues, offer free and paid courses and lectures.
Everything Is a Lesson
Education can be found in everything, everywhere. Don’t feel confined by study plans and rigid course structures. Bring creativity into your home classroom by making everything applicable. Making dinner? Introduce math and chemistry. Goofing around outside? Explore nature and biology. Running errands? Discuss the cultural and financial impact of the city around you. Look at the art cities use for beautification. Discuss trends in the businesses located near you and what those trends might mean for the economy. Opportunities for learning beyond the classroom are all around.
As Henry Ford said, “There are two extremes to be avoided: one is the attitude of contempt toward education, the other is the tragic snobbery of assuming that marching through an educational system is a sure cure for ignorance and mediocrity.” Your family’s educational system should never be that rigid march. As your teens prepare for the future, let them see what all the world has to offer.