There are many benefits of homeschooling for young people of all ages. However, when students are teenagers, whether they started homeschooling as elementary students or are just beginning now, the focus is different. When you are homeschooling elementary school children, the primary focus is on meeting academic benchmarks. When the students are teenagers, you must face the reality that they must eventually go out into the world and make their own way. Therefore, the focus must shift to preparing students for life after graduation. Here are some ideas for starting the conversation about careers with homeschooled teens.
Listen to What They Have to Say
Up until now, you may have been accustomed to guiding your teen’s activities. However, what you want for your teen’s career may not be what he or she wants. Ultimately, people are more successful in careers that relate to their interests. Therefore, you should start the conversation by asking your teen what he or she wants to do and listening without judgment, even if he or she mentions something that is outside your sphere of experience, such as fleet GPS monitoring.
Help Your Teen Seek Opportunities to Gain Relevant Experience
Once you find out what your teen is interested in, you can then help him or her seek out opportunities to gain career experience relevant to that field. This may not necessarily mean paid employment. It is difficult for teens to break into the job market with a lack of experience. If your child has not had the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, he or she may face even more of a challenge. Furthermore, the jobs that are typically available to teenagers often do not provide a lot of career-specific experience.
Since the goal is preparation for a long-term career, look for volunteer opportunities that provide experience relevant to your teen’s interests. For example, if your teen would like to become a veterinarian one day, volunteering at the local animal shelter both engages his or her interest and provides relevant experience that he or she can draw upon in the future. In the long run, this can benefit him or her much more than a paycheck from a fast-food job would. So be sure to keep that in mind when talking about careers with homeschooled teens.
Prepare Your Teen for Interviews
While some volunteer organizations are happy to accept help from anyone, it is more common for such organizations to apply standards almost as rigorous as those used by employers. In fact, if the position involves working with young children, the standards may be even more rigorous to protect children from possible abuse. Therefore, whether your teen is seeking a volunteer position or a paid job, he or she should know how to interview.
If it has been a while since you have interviewed for a job, resources explaining the process may be useful to both you and your teen alike. You should particularly emphasize the most important aspects of the interview:
- Be on time
- Dress appropriately
- Prepare ahead of time to present your credentials and answer questions
Know When to Step Back
When it comes time for the interview itself, however, then it is time to stand back and let your teen shine. You should not come along to the interview because that does not give the impression that your teen is dependable and mature. Maybe your teen is not able to drive himself or herself to the interview, but if you have to provide transportation, wait in the car until the interview is over.
Prepare Your Teen for Disappointment
Rejection is a necessary part of any career. But it can be difficult for your teen to take, especially the first time. When discussing careers with homeschooled teens, be sure to explain early in the process that your teen will not receive every position he or she applies for and may be passed over for something he or she really wants. This is a good opportunity to teach values of resourcefulness and persistence.
It is important to maintain balance while guiding your teen into a career path. Keep up the encouragement while still keeping your teen grounded with realistic expectations.