When is your student ready to graduate from homeschool highschool?

When you are following an individual identity driven type of homeschool each child is going to have a different finishing schedule.  The idea behind our homeschooling is that each child receives the education they need in order to be prepared for the next phase of their life – to live life as an adult that glorifies God.  This means they will study different things and they will be on a different timeline then other students.

[Tweet “An individualised education will mean the timing of graduating will also be individualised.”]

Both Josh and Jess finished homeschooling not because they had ticked all the year 11 and 12 boxes, but because they were ready for the next stage – and to be honest it is a bit hard to define what that ‘ready’ looks like.  There was a stirring in them for other things.  It wasn’t rebellious, it wasn’t against homeschooling, it was them growing up.  I remember feeling much the same thing when I was around 17, and I went to school – I was ready for something else and my mum and dad helped make that happen.

But alongside of our kids’ sense of growing up and wanting to fly there are a few things that as the parent I need to know they have got covered.  In school (or at least here in our State) they have to complete 4 subjects at a grade C level to receive a school leaving certificate.  So what are the basics that we want to see in our children before they graduate homeschool highschool?

1. Defend your faith

This is the most important thing to us – that our kids know God and choose to follow Him.  Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?   This verse puts into perspective any desire that we wish to pursue – keeping our heart towards God is the most important thing.  We want our children to be prepared to defend their faith; this may look different for each of them.  If they go to university they will need to stand strong on what they believe and why and may need to intellectually defend their faith, but just being with people in any situation they will also need to … in your heart honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).  We also want our kids to know how to be responsible themselves for growing/maturing as a Christian and that they know that this is not just about homeschool lessons, but rather skills for life.

2. Love of learning

I believe a mark of being ready to move into adult life is to have a love of learning: a desire to learn and the skills to do so.  Our society tends to define this as reading, writing, math, history and science.  I want to look deeper than just those skills; I’m looking for curiosity, asking questions, thinking and connecting ideas and concepts, and an ability to seek out the knowledge that they need at any given time.  Reading, writing, research skills are all skills that foster learning, but each child will do this to a different degree.  The goal isn’t to have everyone studying the same way, but for everyone to be able to learn in a way that helps them achieve.   I also want our highschool students to know themselves, and how they best learn, and to be responsible for their learning (either formal or informal learning).  If they don’t have practice at being responsible while still in the home, they will flounder when they go out on their own to maintain these skills.

3. Relationships Skills

Getting along with people is one of the biggest areas we help our kids with when they are growing up.  I want my young adult to know the importance of loving others, putting others first – whether it is family, friends, or a stranger.  I want them to know (and practice regularly) how to say sorry, and give forgiveness.  I want them to be able to stand up for their beliefs and yet be gracious to others who believe differently.  I want them to be able to build friendships, be social, be caring and involved.  I want them to respond to life, people and circumstances, with character.  These things aren’t necessarily something you can tick off a graduation list – but rather I want to see my kids characterised by living life with people in a way that reflects God’s love for people.

4. Manage your time

One of the many life skills that our children need is to manage their time, projects and commitments.  I highlight this life skill over many others (such as cooking) because it is about them balancing all their life as an adult – balancing their studies, work, responsibilities, relationships, and personal well-being.  This is another skill that needs to be practiced in order to master, before they leave home.

5. Developing skills within your Passion

By the time our kids leave homeschooling I want them to be aware of an inner passion – something that excites and motivates them and to have some skills within that area.  This passion may or may not be a career choice but I want them to pursue it none-the-less. A passion/interest will give our children many skills that will prepare them, though maybe indirectly, for their life as an adult.  Joshua’s passion was history and philosophy (worldviews, apologetics).  Jessica’s was broader and very practical –    technology, writing, business.  Naomi’s is art.

 

They are ready when they are ready

Of course there are going to be many other skills and interests that our children will have by the time they get to school leaving age but these five will give me peace of mind that my kids are ready to move onto the next phase of their life – whatever that may be.

I am reminded of the framework that Brett and Alex Harris gave in “Do Hard Things” – Character, Competence and Collaboration.  I think these would be another check list to think about as our children grow older.

  • Do they respond to life and people with character?
  • Do they have skill, knowledge, competence in a particular area?
  • Do they have the skills and heart to work with other people?

[Tweet “Character, Competence and Collaboration (Do Hard Things) – 3 aspects important in a teens life.”]

You may have other things that you have decided are the marks of finishing homeschool highschool – I’d love to hear what they are (please leave a comment).  I have chosen these because I think they underpin the many other skills and knowledge sets that we expect from our kids, and yet give room for each child to be unique and pursue different course in their highschool and beyond years.

 

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Over to you:

How would you define a student ready to graduate from highschool homeschool?

 

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