by Susan K. Stewart
CHEA Communications Adviser
Each one of my children took a different route to a career. My oldest chose not to go to college but rather get technical training specific to her work. The next in line went to college for a while, left for the work world, and has continued to advance in his profession. Finally, the youngest choose military service right after graduation.
When I speak to homeschoolers about preparing our children for gradation, the topic usually centers on transcripts, college prep course, SAT test, and so on. For my children, and others, those have turned out not to be so important.
In that 20-20 world of hindsight, I can now see what really prepared my children for their future paths. Although algebra has been useful to all of them, it is not the cornerstone of success. Home-educated students are faring so well in the “real” world because of more important, less tangible lessons.*
Our homeschool program included lessons in respect for authority. Of course, that begins early with honoring mother and father. We continued this training by respecting those who have authority over us, whether at work or at home. Each one of my children has a boss, no matter where they are on the company ladder. Often it has been this respect that has helped them to move up that ladder and be given more responsibility. Even when number two was at college, he knew that his teachers were an authority over him. Whether he agreed with them or not, he respected them.
Leadership skills have proven very important to all three of my children. My younger son, even while at a very low rank in the Marine Corp, was given leadership roles. He proved he is able to lead others with not only authority but also with respect. These positions of leadership, whether as a squad leader or showing new personnel around the barracks, made future promotions possible for him.
Though my children all have the ability to lead, they also have the willingness to serve others. My oldest was one of the youngest store managers of a major one-hour photo chain. She was willing to serve the customer and other employees before “looking out for number one.” Her superiors saw her as capable of leading because she was willing to serve.
Just by being taught at home, my children learned to think independently. They were not and are not governed by group pressure. They learned to look at situations uniquely, from a different and creative point of view. When my older son worked in construction, the ability to look at a problem creatively allowed him to find solutions that are not only workable but required less man-hours and consequently saved money. His employer appreciated this and put my son in charge of projects with less than one-year experience in the field.
Integrity has been vital to each one as well. Their word is good. They can be depended on. They don’t cheat their employers and are rewarded for this value.
What class teaches all of these skills and how is it recorded on a transcript? The answer is “none” and “it’s not.” The traits that have served homeschooled students so well are not taught as part of a formal class. Preparation for after homeschool goes beyond readin’, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. It’s the non-tangible skills that served my children well. It’s skills that aren’t taught in a book. It’s the qualities that come from living a real and godly life in a homeschool.
Copyright 2001. Used by permission of the author.
Susan K. Stewart is a writer, speaker, and teacher. She and her husband Bob began homeschooling their three children in 1981, graduating all three from homeschool. Susan has served the homeschool community through Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) of California for more than twenty years. Susan speaks and writes about homeschooling, and is the author of Preschool: At What Cost? Visit Susan’s website www.practicalinspirations.com