Have you heard of the Duke of Edinburgh Award? It is an opportunity that I would greatly encourage homeschoolers to investigate and run with. The Duke of Ed (Australian’s shorten everything!) Award is about helping young people challenge themselves and create long term sustainable habits for active community life.
In summary: There are three levels: bronze, silver and gold – each one creating a higher level of challenge and achievement. There are five aspects of the challenge: physical fitness, volunteering, learning a skill, a residential challenge, and an adventurous challenge. For each aspect the young person sets a personal goal; this goal needs to be both meaningful and a challenge to them. I do like this aspect of the Duke of Ed – it is about the individual achieving – they challenge themselves, not compare themselves to others. The Award takes 6, 12 or 18months of consistency to finish – though it can also be stretched out for longer.
The award is open for young people between the age of 14 and 25. I personally think it is worth considering for the homeschooling highschool years. Though the Award cannot be subjects taken at school – the homeschooler has plenty of time to work on these extra type of projects.
Three out of four of my kids have signed up for it – and I’m working on Daniel!
- For their physical fitness challenges they have set personal goals such as – to run a ¼ marathon and to improve their speed over a 2 year period, to spend time with a personal trainer and learn to exercise correctly, to run or swim and improve their distances, to improve in a particular sport such as Taekwondo or Netball.
- For their skills they have set personal goals in learning music, drama, singing, dance. They’ve taken online courses to improve their art skills and undertaken large hobby project such as build a model railroad.
- For their volunteering they have helped in the community with – helping at Mainly Music and the local Picture Gardens (outdoor movies), Event and Sport club committees, Church events and programmes, and incidental community events that need helpers.
- Jessica’s trip to Uganda counted as her Adventurous Journey and Joshua is helping to run a youth camp which he plans to use as his Residential challenge.
As you can see, these things are a part of their regular life – the biggest challenge for my kids was to own these things – instead of just doing them as a part of our family, and to be consistent in effort and record keeping, and they still have a few big projects to work on.
This is what I’ve learnt so far as I’ve supported my kids:
- They have to own it – they need to see the value in it, and want to go for it.
- If your kids are already pursuing a hobby, growing in fitness, and/or volunteering, they may as well set some specific goals and be rewarded for their effort.
- It is about managing your award – record keeping, and being consistent. This is a great skill in and of itself.
- If your child is headed for Uni – their plate may be full enough, but if not, then this may well be a great project for their highschool years.
Though many schools are the administration hub for the Duke of Ed Award, there is also a National Open Award Centre (and in some States there is a specific Open Award Centre for your State). This means your child will sign up with a more central office – instead of local – and be supported from there. Initially we had a co-ordinator here in town, but this has since been transferred to the local highschool, and though they would like to work in with my kids, it has been simpler to administrate the Award from this central location.
In my mind there are a few things that create value for this Award:
- It gives our children an external motivator – which helps them transfer from just doing what I want them to do, to doing what they want to do. There is a season in our life where an external motivator (such as an Award) is a good thing.
- It is a good thing to have on a Resume. I have spoken to several employees and though they didn’t know the details of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, they were familiar with its standing for excellence, and commented that seeing that on a resume, would carry some weight. This is because it shows that a young person has some initiative and personal interests, that they are active in the community, and take responsibility for their own life. It is these types of attitudes that employees are looking for – more than just a good score on a piece of paper.
- It gives credit for a lot of things that my kids were already doing. And it has extended them to stretch themselves beyond our family activities.
So if you are looking for ways to motivate, encourage and challenge your kids – Duke of Edinburgh may just work for you. Check it out: Duke of Edinburgh Award (For overseas readers – There is an International arm which may mean this award could be in your country too).