On Monday, I wrote about the importance of creative play in your homeschool. Today, I want to fast forward a bit to the tween and teen years for your homeschooled child. While I think imagination is great at any age, as your child grows older, the more that imagination needs to become focused on real world things. It needs to become innovative and inventive, reaching forward into adulthood. That is why I strongly encourage you to invest in your child’s future with your homeschooling dollars. Here are a few pointers to get you started!
Pay attention to your child’s interests
It is imperative you become a student of your child. Pay close attention to the things that interest them, and brainstorm how you could take that interest to the next level. You might need to really think outside the box to figure out what interests could translate to a real world education, but don’t give up. For instance, say your son really enjoys computer games. You could consider investing in computer programming lessons or computer parts they could tear into. You could introduce them to graphic design or coding.
Some interests have more obvious real world application than others, but I’m of the mind that just about any interest can be turned into a real world education, and using a child’s interests are a sure-fire way to keep them interested in what they are learning!
Spend money on quality.
I know how expensive homeschooling can be. I know what it’s like to wonder if something is truly worth it. You might be tempted to buy cheap so you can buy more things rather than buying QUALITY that costs more. However, take it from me, this is RARELY a good choice. Always try to get the BEST QUALITY for the BEST PRICE. Let me walk you through my daughter’s photography journey to help illustrate this…
When Megan’s interest in photography became obvious, we bought her a digital point and shoot camera like this one. It was enough camera for her to start on and make sure she truly had an interest before investing in the more expensive DSLR. Once we saw she really did have an aptitude and wanted to take it further, we purchased a DSLR (a Nikon D3200 – although Megan says if you are going to buy something like this now, it should be the newer D3400). Yes, it was an investment, but it has been well worth it. She began a photography business before the age of 16 and created the digital magazine Teen Photographer!
I alluded to this in my previous point when I said we bought Megan “enough camera” starting out. Even her D3200 was “enough camera” at the time (although we are fast approaching the day when she will need a more professional grade camera, but at this point, she is able to use earnings from her photography business to help offset the cost). It is important not to invest more than your child can handle.
So, let’s say your child is interested in pottery. Don’t start their real world educational investment by buying a pottery wheel and a kiln and a studio. Start where they are plus a bit of a challenge. So, when they progress past modeling clay, you might look into buying a wheel, but finding a local shop with a kiln to fire the pieces in. Sometimes all out is great, but when it comes to tweens and teens, it is usually more prudent to take the investment in steps.
Be prepared to “waste” money – but not see it as a waste.
The guitar in the photo above was Blake’s, my oldest son. You want to know how many times he played it? Twice. That’s right – it was a fleeting interest. HOWEVER, his younger sister played it and played it until she outgrew it and we bought her a Luna for her birthday. When Blake decided guitar playing wasn’t for him, I remember that sinking feeling that money had been wasted (oh, how I hate that feeling!), BUT, I told myself between all these kids, surely one of them would be interested in playing the guitar. And I was right! (phew!)
Have your child help with the investment.
You do not need to hand your child everything their little heart desires. In fact, I would strongly caution against that. While we typically pay for the initial investment, extras are typically paid for by our children. So, back to the camera…we bought the camera, she bought the lenses…and the tripod…and the upgraded camera bag…well, you get the picture. (By the way, her upgraded camera bag is AWESOME and a great price – just in case you or your child are in the market.)
Incorporate your child’s interests into their homeschooling.
I’ve talked about this on multiple occasions, but I think this is one that is often overlooked. My 12 year old daughter is very interested in cooking and baking. She will often make treats for us based on what we are learning about in school. If we read a book that has a meal mentioned in it, she will try to recreate it (Little House on the Prairie was fun! They even have a cookbook that goes along with the books!). My son who is interested in video editing will do videos for school projects, and my artsy children often sketch along with their schoolwork. Let them use school hours to hone their skills and show them how their interests can be a part of their educational experience.
Incorporate your child’s interests into your family life.
Put their interests to use! My daughter does all of our family photography for free! The blog photography she does for me goes to pay for her Compassion sponsored child. My oldest son does my video editing for YouTube. My 12 year old regularly cooks meals and tries out recipes I have trouble getting around to. We are a family of individuals with unique passions and interests, but because we are a family, those interests need to benefit the family in their own unique way. And you better believe I am cheering them on every step of the way!
So, now it’s your turn! What types of real world homeschooling are you doing?