One big problem I have faced as a homeschooling Dad is uncovering exactly what my kids want to do to make their mark in this world, as well as provide for themselves and their families. This is an important part of the unschooling process because uncovering their interests helps you find the right resources to guide them to what they want to know and ultimately, who they want to be.
Not only that but what a person does for fun can have a major impact on what they do for a living, so finding good hobbies that benefit your chosen career choices can help you really get the most out of life.
All these thoughts tie back to what kids are interested in because once kids have a set goal, they do whatever it takes to accomplish it.
Adults are usually the ones with motivation issues, and in my opinion, that is caused by the constant requirement to do things we had no underlying interest in when we were growing up.
As Parents, we have a golden ticket opportunity to show our kids how vast their pool of options actually is, starting with uncovering their interests and affinities at very early stages in life. This crucial step will help you lead them down the path to their own self-discovery quickly and set them up to be industry leaders in whatever they choose to do later in life
How to Unschool: Finding the Spark
The main goal of unschooling is to let kids lead their own educational journey, and find what they enjoy doing as well as what their natural strengths are; the two go hand-in-hand really.
Kids aren’t always going to understand the need to pursue their dreams, but it’s our job as parents to help them find the way by providing the resources they need to discover their talents and interests that they can develop into job-ready skills, especially if they choose to work for themselves one day.
That might sound easy enough, but depending on what that specific interest is, can take up a large amount of time and resources that a lot of people just dont have.
There is nothing wrong with that, and if you need a little more information before moving forward, check out these articles to learn more about what unschooling is at its core so you can make the best decision for your family moving forward:
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Where to Start with Discovering Your Kids’ Interests?
Most of the time, this will be as simple as asking them what they want to do when they grow up.
However, not all kids have a simple answer like “Firefighter” or “Race-car Driver” and instead drop big ones like “software engineer” or “Roboticist”, which are what two of my kids have chosen as their dream jobs.
(Fortunately for me, I am a web developer so I kinda have a foot in the door with some of the basic knowledge they will need to start learning to program.)
Not all parents will have interests that align with their children’s though and that can lead to some steep learning curves for both kids and parents.
There are so many resources available for nearly every career path out there, and there is nothing stopping your kids from getting a head start and being leagues beyond their peers at an early age.
There are a few ways to narrow down the search for their specific dream jobs, and you will most likely need to spend years on this, so dont expect them to just pick something and roll with it off the bat.
It takes patience and determination, so stick with it and I promise you will see improvements in your children when they get to wake up and do what they love every day.
What You Can Do to Help Them Find Their Way.
There are so many options out there, and most people dont know what they are really good at until they are well into their adult years.
I attribute this to the fact that most of us didn’t have someone telling us to follow our dreams that actually meant it.
The last thing I want for my kids is for them to “get a job” that they dont want.
I dont even have to say that there are so many things wrong with that ideology and is a direct cause of why the quality of services and products has plummeted in recent years.
No one wants to work the jobs that are available.
So instead of simply pushing them in the direction of a career, we should teach them how to turn their hobbies and passions into a source of income that they will continuously work towards improving!
1. Show Them What They Can Be
The first big difference you can make is by setting a great example. Even if you dont have a career that aligns with their interests, you can show them that hard work and determination can lead you to the life of your dreams.
Kids look up to their parents, and they will pick of most of their habits from you, so its best to keep good ones yourself.
Focus on improving yourself daily, and it will become second nature for your kids and they will grow up to thank you for it!
2. Talk to Them About Who They Are Now
Helping them identify where their skillsets lie currently and where they want them to be is a great place to begin narrowing down your search.
You could use a chart to keep track, or simply base your search on a skill to skill basis until you find something they might want to look more into.
Hit the ol’ search engine and start looking for jobs that make use of those specific skills and record your findings. once you have a list of ten to twenty potential fields, start discecting them down to their base level.
Copywriting for instance would need someone who is a convincing speaker and is able to translate that ability to text in order to convince someone to carry out an action; clicking the learn more link on an ad is a good example of what a copywriter would want to accomplish.
Graphic designers need great attention to detail, so if your kid never misses a beat, and loves to draw or doodle, this might be a good candidate to move to the “keeper” pile to review later.
There will likely be a plethora of potential jobs that they can set a focus on that need people with overlapping skill as well; a web designer needs to be able to read and write code as well as a keen sense of detail in order to provide the best work possible.
3. Introduce Them to New Things
This can come in the form of anything ranging from a platform to learn coding, to a woodworking project or two.
Try to base this on skills and interests they already possess, because they will at least need a small level of affinity beforehand to get a good first impression of the new area they are exploring.
You would hate to turn them against something that could be beneficial to them later by setting them up for failure.
Everything needs to be done in baby steps and with the least amount of pressure possible.
If your kids love video games for instance, try something like CodeSpark for younger kids and Tynker for those that need a bit of a challenge to get them associated with the idea that they CAN make their own games, it will just take a little bit of knowledge and experience to make a career out of it.
4. Implement These Activities Daily
The great thing about unschooling is that we are generally trying to help kids find what they are good at, not what they are bad at.
Bolstering the skills they already possess is a great way to set them up for continued success and can be a major boost to their confidence.
Once you have found some potential fields of interest, and gotten a good list of five or so activities to help them work towards those goals, start developing a lesson plan that accommodates the new found interest, and in some cases, make that the primary focus of your unschooling curriculum.
My oldest is hooked on game design, and he spends most of the school day perfecting his games and Minecraft mods that he has created himself!
While this isn’t all he does throughout the day, I can definitely say that he spends more than half of his school time working on his games and the vast majority of his free time as well.
We usually have to run him off of the computer in the evenings so someone else can get some work done!
Once they find their niche, it will become their favorite thing to do.
I can attest to the fact that kids learn more when they are doing something they consider fun, and all of the other skills they need in life will start to develop on their own so they can become even better at doing the things they enjoy doing.
5. Encourage Them to Always Improve
Simply setting goals and finding new activities to help achieve them wont be enough.
You need to have some sort of pre-determined strategy in order to keep them moving towards the milestones they have set for themselves.
Im not saying drive them with an iron fist, but if you see that they are getting a little bored, simply suggest that they spend a little time improving in one of the critical areas that will set them up for future success.
Even repeating a process they have done hundreds of times can help cement the foundational knowledge they will need when they start to pursue more challenging activities and make the transition even easier!
Unschooling is a process of self-discovery, so letting kids take the lead on discovering their interests will encourage them to actually put the work in.
On the other hand, forcing them to do ANYTHING is going to discourage them from ever doing it on their own time, which is exactly the opposite from what we want as unschooling parents.
Even if it takes a few days or weeks to really uncover what they would like to pursue in terms of career-skills, make sure you make the experience enjoyable, and most importantly, on their terms.
This shouldn’t be a difficult process, but sometimes it can lean that way if you arent careful.
To keep it simple:
- Communicate about the skills they have
- Make a list of jobs that make use of those skills
- Find activities related to the potential careers they have shown interest in
- Implement the skill-building activities that will set them up to be leaders of the industry in just a few short years!
Dont stress! Your kids are on their way to success, and you are doing a great job if you have made it to the bottom of this article!
Make sure to share this with your family members and kids so everyone has a good idea of what they should be or could be doing to make this process even easier by getting everyone on the same page!